Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Why we can't have nice things

While perusing Twitter Tuesday evening, I came across this tweet by political reporter Michael Brodkorb.

Jake Duesenberg is co-chair (I believe) of the MN Tea Party Alliance, which is (allegedly) one of the more influential TP groups in this state. As as ardent tea partier, Mr. Duesenberg has never hidden his disdain for those Republicans he considers "too moderate" or "non-champions of liberty." That's his prerogative I suppose, but I'm not certain who he believes put him in charge of doling out the ideological purity cards.

The fact is Christie has never been charged with any crimes (he was cleared in "Bridgegate") nor has he ever been cited for any sort of ethical violations. As such, I'm befuddled at how he can be labeled a "dirty politician." I guess if one is a Republican who can somehow get elected to statewide office in (of all places) New Jersey, it stands to reason that one isn't exactly a  hardcore conservative. So is Mr. Duesenberg simply labeling Christie "dirty" merely because the NJ governor doesn't pass some sort of asinine litmus test? That seems pretty petulant if that's the case.

What seems to elude Duesenberg (as well as others who are incapable seeing the forest for the trees) is that Christie is coming to Minnesota in his role as chair of the Republican Governors Association. You know, that little outfit that helps REPUBLICAN gubernatorial candidates get elected? Jeff Johnson long ago laid out his position on critical issues as well as his agenda for when he's elected governor of Minnesota. As a result, Johnson was endorsed by MN GOP delegates as well as winning the Republican primary in August. This idea that Christie is coming to Minnesota in an attempt to "define" Johnson's campaign seems to be little more than a figment of Duesenberg's paranoid delusions. Get a grip, will ya?


Monday, September 29, 2014

Gardy gone

Having lost 90+ games for the fourth consecutive season, there's no way the local nine could maintain the status quo. The first step in the overhaul process began Monday.

The Minnesota Twins fired manager Ron Gardenhire on Monday, saying it was time for a new voice after his 13-season tenure concluded with at least 92 losses in each of the last four years.

The move was made with one season left on Gardenhire's contract, ending the second-longest active tenure in the major leagues behind Mike Scioscia of the Angels.

"The reason for this change, I think it's safe to say, the last couple years we have not won enough games," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "That's what it comes down to. It's nothing more, nothing less than that."

Gardenhire played an integral role in the franchise's renaissance, guiding the Twins to their first of six American League Central division titles in 2002 in his first year on the job. But Gardenhire's teams only got out of the first round once, and his postseason record was 6-21 with the last win coming in 2004.

I do not believe the franchise's woes over the past four years are solely at Gardy's feet. Given the pitiful starting pitching the Twins have trotted out to the mound the past few years, I can't think of one manager who could have come close to a .500 record with the assortment of starters they cobbled together. However, it's hard to convince a quickly diminishing season ticket base that keeping a field manager who has presided over four straight lousy seasons is the best way to right the ship.

The next obvious question is who will the Twins consider for only their third manager in the past 28 years? The natural inclination is to go with St. Paul native Paul Molitor. Not only is he a Hall of Fame player but Molitor has quickly earned the respect of Twins players and prospects with his high baseball IQ. In fact, he was being strongly considered to manage the Twins in 2002 before the job went to Gardenhire.

Another possibility is Terry Steinbach (also a Minnesota native), who just completed his second season as Twins bench coach. Steinbach too has a reputation of having earned a high baseball acumen during his 14-year career as catcher for both the Oakland Athletics and Twins. But if the Twins are considering Steinbach as their manager, they might want to get together with him posthaste. Steinbach's manager in Oakland, Tony LaRussa, was hired as Chief Baseball Officer by the Arizona Diamondbacks a few months ago. In addition, former A's pitcher Dave Stewart (who was teammates with Steinbach in Oakland for seven seasons) was recently hired as GM of the Diamondbacks. One of Stewart's first official actions was to fire manager Kirk Gibson and bench coach Alan Trammell. Don't think for one second Steinbach isn't on the D-Backs' short list of replacements for Gibson.

The Twins also kept open the possibility of hiring outside the organization. One name that cropped up via baseball insiders was that of Dave Martinez, who played 16 seasons (1986-2001) in the big leagues with nine different franchises. Martinez has been the Tampa Bay Rays bench coach since their AL pennant winning season of 2008. This would be intriguing from the standpoint that Martinez has been under the tutelage of highly respected manager Joe Maddon, who managed the Rays to five 90-win seasons in six years. Quite an accomplishment for a franchise with scant financial resources.

I imagine there will be other names bandied about in the coming days and Ryan will likely weigh all options carefully. Given it's been almost three years since he's been back on the job as Twins GM, Ryan may well be the next guy on the hot seat if this next move doesn't work out and the team continues to struggle on the field.

This will definitely be one of the more intriguing offseasons the Twins have had in over a decade.


Box Score of the Week

Henderson Alvarez of the Miami Marlins tossed a no-hitter in last year's regular season finale vs the Detroit Tigers.


On the final day of the 2014 MLB regular season, Washington's Jordan Zimmerman threw a no-hitter in a 1-0 win over the Miami Marlins. The last time a no-hitter was thrown in a team's regular season finale? It was just last year when, ironically, the Miami Marlins pulled off that feat. 


Sunday, September 28, 2014

It was a cool and lovely breezy afternoon (How does it feel when you've got no food?)....

A beautiful fall day today but, alas, I'll be in the Patriot bunker for today's broadcast of The Closer. I will be on the air from 1:00 until 3:00 PM Central Time.

At 1:15, Republican Congressional candidate Doug Daggett will join me in studio. Doug is running for US House in Congressional District 5, currently represented by the far left Keith Ellison.

In non-guest segments, I will discuss myriad political news which took place on both the local and national levels (e.g. MNGOP guv candidate Jeff Johnson releasing his first TV ad, the latest on the US Senate races, Eric Holder out as AG, 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.....


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Well the names have all changed since you hung around....

As a 45-year old fan of University of Minnesota Gophers football, I have seen the Gophs defeat the University of Michigan on merely three occasions in my lifetime (1977, 1986 and 2005). As such, the Little Brown Jug, which is the traveling trophy in this rivalry, has spent an inordinate amount of time at the Michigan campus in Ann Arbor.

But for only the 25th time in 101 games vs Michigan, the Gophers squad was able to march around the football field Saturday hoisting said trophy!!

A 30-14 win over Michigan in the place they call "The Big House" was an incredibly sweet moment on multiple levels. Not only does the Little Brown Jug make a rare trip to the Minnesota campus but it also provided a satisfying moment for Gophers' head coach Jerry Kill. Next week will mark the 1-year anniversary of when Kill suffered a seizure just prior to Minnesota's game with Michigan in Ann Arbor. Kill was unable to coach in the game and his team was routed 42-13. The immediate aftermath saw many fans/media members questioning whether Kill should even be coaching.

Granted, this is a lousy Michigan team the Gophers thumped this weekend. But that fact did little to dampen the enthusiasm and excitement of players, coaches and fans.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Football Trivia: I drift back in time and I find my feet down on Mainstreet....

Thursday Night Football Trivia took place at Mainstreet Bar & Grill in Hopkins this evening. After having won it all two weeks ago and then finishing 2nd last week, I was geared up for another championship.

As usual, the written portion determined how players were seeded for the bracketed tournament. I scored 9 of 13 in the written Q&A, which was good for a #2 seed and a first round bye.

In the quarterfinals, I faced a guy who called himself the "Argonaut." This round is Family Feud style where the first person to buzz in obviously gets first crack at answering. It was best 2 out of 3. 

Question one: Who was the last person to hit a home run and score a touchdown in the same week. 

Brad (buzzing in first): Deion Sanders. Correct. 

1-0, Brad. 

Question two: Which NFL team holds the record for longest losing streak. 

Argonaut (buzzing in first): Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Correct. 

1-1 tie. 

Question three: Name one of the seven NFL teams which do not employ cheerleaders. 

Brad (buzzing in first; totally guessing): Atlanta Falcons? Incorrect. 
Argonaut: Cleveland Browns. Correct!

Argonaut wins, 2-1. He would go on to lose his semifinal matchup however. Regardless, I left Mainstreet feeling incredibly unfulfilled. 

On a side note, 17-time champion Brendan Byrne lost his semifinal match, so there have been three different winners the first three weeks. 

On to Liquor Lyle's next week where I will seek the distinction of being the first repeat winner in 2014.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

In case you're wondering,....

.....the White House's current occupant is still participating in Amateur Hour.

My friend (and filmmaker) Michael Wilson had perhaps the best reaction to this, via his Facebook page.

In boot camp once, I was mopping a shower at the back of the squad bay. A captain comes in the door and I'm the first one to see him. You're supposed to come to attention and yell "attention on deck!" But I panicked, came to attention with the mop in my right hand and saluted with my left. The captain looks at me and says with disgust, "you gotta be f***ing kidding me." Aside from being a metaphor for my career in the Marine Corps, I know how Obama feels. After an hour with a drill instructor standing over him making him do push-ups and thrust-kicks until he vomits, the President will probably never do that again.

That's a Pay-Per-View event if I've ever heard of one!


Monday, September 22, 2014

Box Score of the Week

The Philadelphia Phillies took on the Oakland A's in a game that took place this past Saturday.


Phillies' pitcher Jerome Williams got the victory in this game. It was the third time this season he has defeated the A's. His other two victories over Oakland occurred when he was a member of two other teams. Williams is the first pitcher since at least 1900 to have at least one win against the same opponent with three different teams in the same season.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

It's those restless hearts that never mend......

It's Sunday, which means yet another edition of my radio program The Closer. I will be broadcasting live from 1:00 until 3:00 PM Central Time.

In the first hour I plan on addressing two of the bigger local news stories from this past week, specifically news that PreferredOne chose to no longer offer health plans on MNsure and the Vikings' poor handling of the Adrian Peterson situation.

At 2:00, Jason Beardsley, Special Operations Advisor for Concerned Veterans for America, will call in to discuss America's strategy against ISIS as well as Congress approving a measure to arm and train Syrian rebels.

In one of the non-guest segments in the second hour, I will address the verdict reached in the Michelle MacDonald trial this past week. Ms. MacDonald is the GOP-endorsed candidate for MN Supreme Court Justice.

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, September 19, 2014

Somebody didn't do their research

After Friday's practice, Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer held a brief press conference. Typically there is little more than the inane questions, but this week was a little different given the Adrian Peterson saga.

In fact, there was one gentleman in particular who fired a question at Zimmer which gave me the impression that he didn't put a lot of thought behind it.

Interviewer: Mike, professionally is this as difficult a week as you've ever been through and how did you sort of handle that, just emotional and focus level?

Coach Zimmer: Well my wife died in October five years ago....and I was still coaching football at the time. 

So I'm going to go out on a limb and say no, this was not the toughest week Zimmer has endured as a pro football coach.

By the way, Zimmer coached his defense literally two days after his wife passed. That day, the Bengals' D held a very good Baltimore Ravens offense to 257 total yards in a 17-14 win in Baltimore.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Football trivia: Lord, have mercy

Lord Fletcher's in Spring Park was the site of the latest installment of 1500 ESPN's football trivia.

Fresh off my first ever championship last week, I was poised for a repeat. It was a beautiful evening on the wharf, but I was focused on the task at hand.

After scoring 18 out of 20 on the written portion, I earned a #2 seed and a first round bye for the bracketed tournament.

In the quarterfinal round, I took on a gentleman named Ross. This round is Family Feud style where the first person to buzz in obviously gets first crack at answering. It was best 2 out of 3.

Question one: What is RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis's nickname?

Brad (buzzing in first): The Law Firm. Correct. 

1-0, Brad

Question two: Fact or Crap -  There is a College Football bowl game entitled the Crown Royal Sunflower Bowl. 

Ross (buzzing in first): That is "crap." Correct. 

1-1 tie

Question three: Four U of M Gophers QBs have thrown for at least 6,000 yards in their career. Name them. 

Brad (buzzing in first): Mike Hohensee. Incorrect. 
Nate (for the win): Tony Dungy. Incorrect.
Brad (for the win): Ricky Foggie. Incorrect
Nate (for the win): Billy Cockerham. Incorrect.
Brad (for the win): Adam Weber. Correct!

Brad wins, 2-1!

The final four is also a best 2 of 3, but the questions are in category format, meaning there are multiple answers. This year has an interesting twist. The rule now is if each player gets one correct answer, it moves to sudden death. That means the first person to give a wrong answer loses the point. 

In this the semifinal round, I faced a guy named Andy.

Question one: Before Mike Zimmer, the Vikings have had eight other head coaches....

Brad (quick with the trigger finger): Norm Van Brocklin. ....in franchise history. Name them. Van Brocklin is correct. 
Andy: Bud Grant. Correct
Brad: Les Steckel. Correct
Andy: Jerry Burns. Correct
Brad: Dennis Green. Correct
Andy: Leslie Frazier. Correct
Brad: Mike Tice. Correct
Andy (takes all 15 seconds; can't come up with it). 

Brad Childress was the one not named. 

1-0, Brad.

Question two: Ten different franchises have made at least 5 Super Bowl appearances. Name them.

Brad (buzzing in first): 49ers. Correct. 
Andy: Steelers. Correct.
Brad: Patriots. Correct. 
Andy: Packers. Correct.
Brad: Cowboys. Correct. 
Andy: Broncos. Correct.
Brad: Dolphins. Correct. 
Andy: Giants. Correct.
Brad: Redskins. Correct. 
Andy (takes all 15 seconds; can't come up with it). 

The Raiders were the only team not named. 

Brad wins, 2-0! On to the finals!!

Once again I faced off against Brendan Byrne, who won a whopping 16 times between the 2011 and 2012 seasons (including defeating me on 5 or 6 occasions). But since I broke through and defeated Brendan in the finals last week, I was rarin' to go this time around. 

The finals are the same categorical, sudden-death format for each question, though it's now a best 3 out of 5. 

Question one: Other than Drew Brees, name a New Orleans Saints QB who has led the team in passing yardage in a given season. 

Brad (buzzing in first): Aaron Brooks. Correct.
Brendan: Jeff Blake. Correct. 
Brad: Archie Manning. Correct.
Brendan: Bobby Hebert. Correct
Brad: (knowing one of the Billy Joes led in 1998; taking a guess): Billy Joe Hobert. Incorrect (GAH! It was Billy Joe Tolliver).

1-0, Brendan. 

Question two: Between college and the NFL, Mike Zimmer has been a coach on seven different teams. Name them. 

Brendan (buzzing in first): Cincinnati Bengals. Correct. 
Brad: Dallas Cowboys. Correct.
Brendan: Vikings. Correct. 
Brad (totally guessing): Eastern Illinois?. Incorrect.

2-0. Brendan.

Question three: Vikings coach Leslie Frazier coached the Vikings to the playoffs in 2012 but was fired after the 2013 season. Name the coaches of five teams on the Vikings' 2012 schedule....

Brad (quick with the trigger finger, trying to anticipate the question): Mike Munchak? .........who are still with that same team this season. Munchak is incorrect (I anticipated the question being which coaches were also fired after 2013). 

Brendan (for the win): Mike McCarthy. Correct. 

Brendan wins, 3-0. 

Oh, well. Last week was the luck of the draw, as I was intimately familiar with the questions asked in final round. This week? Not so much. 


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

About face

In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, the Minnesota Vikings announced RB Adrian Peterson would not be allowed to participate in team activities and is not to appear at the team facility for an indefinite period of time. This is a complete about-face from the statement put out by ownership less than 40 hours earlier, indicating they were willing to let the legal process play out. Now the narrative is that it is in the best interest of Peterson to be away from the team to solely focus on charges that he recklessly/negligently injured his 4-year old son.

The obvious question is why wasn’t this course of action chosen at the outset? Unless there was some new evidence/development in the Peterson case, why did the Vikings organization perform a 180 from their initial decision, one in which owners Zygi and Mark Wilf gave “significant thought, discussion and consideration?”

I think you can surmise the answer (Hint: My friend Mark “Mr. D.” Heuring spelled it out perfectly).


Preferring to leave

Pretty much everything that has happened with Minnesota's health insurance exchange (MNsure) has been utterly predictable, given the rush to set up said exchange.

The technical snafus were almost forgivable early on, but they still endure nearly a year later. Then we hear of multiple hour wait times on the phone when customers call for assistance/support. But the coup de grace of absurdity is how applicants did everything they were supposed to do to purchase insurance, yet the payment process was flubbed, leaving many without coverage. 

I guess it's no surprise that one local insurance provider chose to bail on this quagmire. 

It’s a major blow to the MNsure health insurance exchange – the insurance company with the lowest rates and the most customers signed up through MNsure will not be back in 2015.

The decision is expected to have a major impact on health insurance customers and the governor’s race.

Golden Valley-based PreferredOne Health Insurance has notified MNsure and the Minnesota Department of Commerce of their decision through a letter. Sources told KSTP’s Tom Hauser that MNsure CEO Scott Leitz was notified by phone Tuesday morning.

Leitz and PreferredOne CEO Marcus Merz released a joint statement about the decision:

“Today PreferredOne made the decision to not offer health plans through the health insurance exchange in 2015. Simply put, both organizations understand that MNsure is still an evolving partnership. This decision impacts 2015 enrollment. Consumers still have at least four, well-known, Minnesota based carriers who are committed to providing important health coverage to Minnesotans through MNsure, including people who qualify for tax credits and public programs. MNsure and PreferredOne will work closely to minimize impact to current enrollees in a PreferredOne Plan through MNsure.”

The good news for those who like their PreferredOne plan is they can keep said plan when the next enrollment period rolls around (no, really). The bad news is that they will no longer qualify for government subsidies since renewal will have to take place through PreferredOne directly.

Because PreferredOne had the lowest rates, the majority of those who purchased insurance through the exchange had coverage through them.

As of Aug. 6, PreferredOne had 59 percent of the individual market MNsure enrollees. Blue Cross Blue Shield was a distant second at 23 percent, with HealthPartners, Medica and UCare much further back.

Essentially 3 out of every 5 Minnesotans who purchased insurance on the state's exchange will now have to endure the arduous process of re-enrolling with another carrier on MNsure, thus all but guaranteeing their rates increase. But, again, if they choose to stay with PreferredOne, rates increase as well due to the fact they aren't eligible for subsidies or tax credits they might otherwise receive via MNsure.

When he wasn't busy hobnobbing with D.C. elites in an effort to raise campaign cash or inserting himself into the Adrian Peterson discussion, Gov. Mark Dayton managed to cobble together a reaction, something about PreferredOne's move being "competition in action." Ummm....OK. Remember, PreferredOne had the vast majority of business that went through the exchange, so they were already dominating the competition. It was the website's general ineffectiveness that caused them to decide it just wasn't worth the heavy resources being expended. That hardly smacks of a competition issue.

Within an hour or two of this news breaking Tuesday, Dayton's opponent in this year's gubernatorial race, Jeff Johnson, was quick to pounce.

“This is yet another example of everyday, middle-class Minnesotans paying the price for Mark Dayton’s incompetence. Six out of 10 people who’ve purchased insurance through MNsure will now have to go through the nightmare process of purchasing another plan all over again—thanks to Mark Dayton.

We now know that Mark Dayton’s claim about MNsure having some of the lowest rates in the country was artificial and based on a house of cards.

Nobody but Mark Dayton is to blame for this whole debacle. As he always does when his actions hurt Minnesotans, Dayton will try to blame everyone but himself. But he created MNsure and hand-picked its board and staff. This is all on him.”

In a recent poll, Johnson was shown to have been trailing Dayton by double digits (but 20% were still undecided). However, Dayton's approval/disapproval ratings are pretty much split, 46/45. That would seem to indicate many Minnesotans are willing to be convinced to elect a new governor. Given that MNsure was one of Dayton's highly touted pet projects yet has been completely bungled along the way (plus, likely higher rates will be revealed next month), this is as good an enticement for change as any. Hopefully Johnson can capitalize.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

More statement games

Despite all the problems the NFL has endured in recent years with such things as concussion lawsuits, the Saints' bounty scandal, "Spygate" and a rash of player arrests, the league is more popular than ever. With seemingly unlimited financial resources, teams can fend off pretty much anything thrown at them.

There's been a lot of renewed indignation lately over the Washington Redskins' nickname, with newspapers and TV stations refusing to utter the team's name. Heck, a sitting US Senate majority leader has called even called them out. In addition, an agency of the Federal government took action in an effort to get owner Daniel Snyder to acquiesce to dropping the allegedly offensive nickname. Despite the onslaught, Snyder has not bowed to the pressure.

When the Philadelphia Eagles signed QB Michael Vick prior to the 2009 season, there was outrage among the animal rights community, including protests at the Eagles facility. This was due to Vick's incarceration due to running a dog fighting ring. He went on to play five seasons in Philly.

Yes, it would appear that trying to force an NFL franchise to change course via high profile protests is the equivalent of firing spitballs at an aircraft carrier.

I've said it so often before and I'll say it again here. Unless an NFL team takes a significant hit in the pocketbook, there's really no incentive for a franchise to do anything other than exactly what it desires to do.

In light of the Vikings announcing that star RB Adrian Peterson will play this Sunday despite being charged with negligent/reckless injury of his 4-year old son, there has been much outrage expressed by the general public (specifically casual and/or non football fans). Naturally, the Vikings will stand by their statement of letting the legal system do it's thing.

However, that tone may very well change in light of a statement put out Monday evening by Radisson hotels.

Radisson takes this matter very seriously particularly in light of our long-standing commitment to the protection of children. We are closely following the situation and effective immediately, Radisson is suspending its limited sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings while we evaluate the facts and circumstances.

At 2:00 pm Monday afternoon, Vikings GM Rick Spielman addressed the media before coach Mike Zimmer's weekly press conference. This was to handle all inquiries regarding Peterson. Say, did anyone else happen to notice the sponsor name on the banner behind Spielman as he was addressing the Vikes' controversial decision?

Granted Radisson (in its words) had only a "limited" sponsorship with the Vikings. But could this be just the beginning? How many other big name sponsors will be looking to distance themselves from this situation? And how much more difficult is it now for Vikings ownership to sell naming rights for the new stadium slated to open in just under two years? Remember, of the nearly $500 million the Wilf family has committed to the project, they are relying on approximately 250-300 million dollars in revenue generated from naming rights.

I wouldn't be shocked if the Vikings brass is privately hoping for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to swoop in and levy a suspension of Peterson. Seems to me that's the only way Zygi Wilf & Co. can save face at this point.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Statement games

I'll admit I was stunned by the news that Minnesota Vikings' star RB Adrian Peterson would be allowed to play this Sunday in light of charges of reckless/negligent injury of his 4-year old son. Since the NFL Commissioner's office has not doled out any punishment, the ball was essentially in the Vikings' court on how to proceed in the short term.

Here was the statement released by owners Mark and Zygi Wilf:

Today’s decision was made after significant thought, discussion and consideration. As evidenced by our decision to deactivate Adrian from yesterday’s game, this is clearly a very important issue. On Friday, we felt it was in the best interests of the organization to step back, evaluate the situation, and not rush to judgment given the seriousness of this matter. At that time, we made the decision that we felt was best for the Vikings and all parties involved.

To be clear, we take very seriously any matter that involves the welfare of a child. At this time, however, we believe this is a matter of due process and we should allow the legal system to proceed so we can come to the most effective conclusions and then determine the appropriate course of action. This is a difficult path to navigate, and our focus is on doing the right thing. Currently we believe we are at a juncture where the most appropriate next step is to allow the judicial process to move forward.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely and support Adrian’s fulfillment of his legal responsibilities throughout this process.

I am compiling this post little more than an hour after the Wilf's statement, so I'm still processing the repercussions of this.

A few initial thoughts:

- I couldn't help but be struck by the excerpt indicating the Vikings brass believes "this is a matter of due process and we should allow the legal system to proceed so we can come to the most effective conclusions and then determine the appropriate course of action." Sure, that's a perfectly rational and common sense policy. However, the Vikings have been woefully inconsistent on this philosophy in recent history.

In 2011, then second-year DB Chris Cook was charged with battering his girlfriend. Now, did the Vikings allow the "legal system to proceed" as opposed to immediately releasing Cook? Yes. However, Cook was essentially deactivated the remaining two months of the 2011 season. He wasn't even allowed at the Vikings' facility. Cook was eventually acquitted in a trial and returned to the Vikings as an active player in 2012.

How about last year when DB AJ Jefferson was charged with domestic assault? Jefferson was released by the team literally within hours of his arrest. So much for letting due process play out.

My point is clear: there's no question the caliber of player is a substantial factor in how team punishment is meted out.

- From a pure football standpoint, the Vikings may want to see if Peterson has anything left. Since he is slated to make at least $14 million per season from 2015-17, the Vikes could cut ties with Peterson after this season (he turns 30 in March) with little salary cap implications. Therefore, they'd have all that salary cap room to upgrade the roster next year. Or maybe it's the Vikings' intention to cut ties after this season regardless, but they just want to squeeze one more year out of Peterson.

- Say, now would be an opportune time to reduce the three-game suspension of Special Teams coach Mike Priefer, thus allowing him to return to the team this week. That potential sideshow would certainly get lost in the shuffle of the Peterson saga, eh?


Box Score of the Week

The then California Angels took on the Seattle Mariners - October 2, 1995.


On August 9, 1995, the Angels led the A.L. West by 11 games. Seven weeks later, they trailed by three games, a 14-game swing that rivaled the epic Boston Red Sox collapse in 1978. But the Angels recovered, winning the final five games of the season, tying the Seattle Mariners for the division lead and forcing a one-game playoff. 

Behind Randy Johnson, the Mariners routed the Angels in that October 2nd contest, earning their first playoff birth in the franchise's 19th season in existence. 


Sunday, September 14, 2014

It was a whole different game being played back when I was a kid....

It's a beautiful fall day as I will be broadcasting The Closer from 1:00 until 3:00 PM Central Time, live from The Patriot bunker.

It was a very news intensive week this past week, so there's a lot to get to in two hours. As an NFL fan and an observer of society I have plenty to say about the domestic incidents involving NFL players Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. I will also comment on President Obama's speech from this past Wednesday regarding ISIS as well as my own 9/11 retrospective.

At 2:45, my friend and Northern Alliance Radio Network colleague Mitch Berg will check in to pimp his co-hosting appearance taking place this evening on Armed American Radio

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.....


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Shining the light on an everyday problem

In this country, the abuse of women and children is, sadly, not news. It's estimated that 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. And per an organization called ChildHelp, there are more than 3 million reports of child abuse involving approximately 6 million children.

Unfortunately these issues seemed to gain their just due only because of two high profile instances week this past involving the NFL. I wrote about the Ray Rice saga earlier this week, and how an in-elevator video was finally released to the public. It showed Rice delivering a literal knockout punch to his then fiancee. Rice's employer, the Baltimore Ravens, quickly terminated his contract upon the video going viral and the NFL upped his suspension from a paltry 2 games to an indefinite period of time.

Just when one began to think there couldn't be anything more disturbing than the Rice saga, we hear a story of a 4-year old boy suffering terrible injuries at the hands of his NFL father.

Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson has been indicted by a Montgomery County, Texas, grand jury on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child and a warrant has been issued for his arrest. The team deactivated him for Sunday's home game against the Patriots.

Peterson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, told ESPN.com in a text that Peterson "certainly will" surrender to authorities.

Hardin issued a statement Friday saying his client's conduct "involves using a switch to spank his son." According to a report by Sports Radio 610 in Houston, Peterson removed the leaves of a tree branch, which he referred to in a police report as "a switch," to strike the child.

"This indictment follows Adrian's full cooperation with authorities who have been looking into this matter. Adrian is a loving father who used his judgment as a parent to discipline his son," Hardin said in his statement. "He used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in east Texas. Adrian has never hidden from what happened."

Hardin said Peterson has cooperated fully with authorities and voluntarily testified before the grand jury for several hours.

"Adrian will address the charges with the same respect and responsiveness he has brought to this inquiry from its beginning," Hardin said. "It is important to remember that Adrian never intended to harm his son and deeply regrets the unintentional injury."

Look, I'm not going to get into the merits of corporal punishment. Whether you think it's OK to spank your kid or not isn't the issue here. What Peterson did was excessive. I saw some of the photographs of the child's injuries. Upon seeing them, my initial reaction was a desire that Peterson never don the uniform of my favorite NFL team ever again. I can't begin to fathom what a 4-year old child could have possibly done to warrant that kind of punishment.

On the football end, Peterson was a fan favorite here in Minnesota, given he was one of the most dynamic running backs the NFL has ever seen. He was also viewed as a good guy in the community, given all of the charitable endeavors in which he's involved. As such, many reacted with shock and devastation at these charges. Personally, I learned a hard lesson long ago about hero worship. Over a decade ago, it was revealed that one of my all-time favorite baseball players, Kirby Puckett, was not the fun-loving jovial human being we witnessed on the ball field. Allegations of adultery as well as assaulting a woman in a restaurant bathroom certainly tarnished his reputation. From that day forward, I could certainly celebrate the impressive accomplishments of a professional athlete without really needing to know anything (nor caring) about his/her private life.

I guess the one positive aspect of the Peterson saga is that he's been fully cooperative and up front about his actions. Whether or not that will make a difference in a courtroom trial is another matter. Lest we forget, Peterson is represented by the same Rusty Hardin who somehow got Roger Clemens acquitted on charges he lied to Congress about PED usage.

Sheesh, so much for sports being a superficial distraction from real life, eh?


Friday, September 12, 2014

Football Trivia: Livin' La Vida Loca

It's back!!! After taking a hiatus during the 2013 NFL season, Twin Cities station 1500 ESPN is back this year hosting Thursday night football trivia live at various locations. Last evening the festivities took place at Burrito Loco in Dinkytown with ESPN Twin Cities personalities Judd Zulgad and Phil Mackey acting as MCs.

The preliminary round entailed a written portion of 10 questions (some having multiple answers). This week's opening portion was worth 23 points. This was to determine how the teams were to be seeded. 

Having achieved 21 points out of a possible 23, I earned a #3 seed and a first round bye. Since trivia savant Brendan Byrne (who was a 10-time winner in 2011 and 6-time champ in 2012) was the #1 seed, I wouldn't have to face him until the finals, if indeed we both got that far. 

In the quarterfinals, I faced a team called the "Step Dads." This was a best 2 out of 3, with each question requiring only one answer. 

Question one: Name one Vikings player who attended college at USC. 

Brad (buzzing in first): Everson Griffen. Correct. 

1-0, Brad

Question two: Name one Vikings player who attended college at Notre Dame. 

Brad (buzzing in first): Kyle Rudolph. Correct.

Brad wins, 2-0!

The final four is also a best 2 of 3, but the questions are in category format, meaning there are multiple answers. This year has an interesting twist. The rule now is if each player gets one correct answer, it moves to sudden death. That means the first person to give a wrong answer loses the point. 

In this the semifinal round, I faced the "Floor Eaterz." 

Question one: Name the 10 RBs in U of M Gophers football history who rushed for at least 2,000 yards in their collegiate careers. 

Brad (buzzing in first): Laurence Maroney. Correct.
Floor Eaterz: Darrell Thompson. Correct.
Brad: Marion Barber III. Correct.
Floor Eaterz: Amir Pinnix. Correct.
Brad: Marion Barber, Jr. Correct.
Floor Eaterz: (No guess).

1-0, Brad

Question two: Name the ten teams in college football's Big 12 conference. 

Floor Eaterz (buzzing in first): Oklahoma. Correct.
Brad: Oklahoma State. Correct.
Floor Eaterz: Texas. Correct.
Brad: Kansas. Correct.
Floor Eaterz: Iowa State. Correct.
Brad: Kansas State. Correct.
Floor Eaterz: TCU. Correct.
Brad: Baylor. Correct.
Floor Eaterz (taking nearly all the allotted 15 seconds): UTEP. Incorrect.

Brad wins, 2-0!!!

So it's on to the finals!! As we've heard so often in regards to a competitive venue: You have to beat the best to be the best. With that in mind, Brendan breezed through his first couple of rounds and was awaiting me in the finals. Again, this is a guy who captured a whopping sixteen wins in a two season span. I personally have gone head-to-head with him at least 5-6 times with nary a victory. 

The finals are the same categorical, sudden-death format for each question, though it's now a best 3 out of 5. 

Question one: On the Vikings current roster, nine different players have played in a Pro Bowl at some point in their career. Name them. 

Brendan (buzzing in first): Adrian Peterson. Correct. 
Brad: Chad Greenway. Correct.
Brendan: John Sullivan. Incorrect. 

Brad leads, 1-0.

Question two: Seven different QBs have thrown for at least 40 touchdowns in a single season. Name them. 

Brad (buzzing in first): Dan Marino. Correct.
Brendan: Peyton Manning. Correct. 
Brad: Drew Brees. Correct.
Brendan: Kurt Warner. Correct. 
Brad: Tom Brady. Correct.
Brendan (taking the entire 15 seconds) Bledsoe? Incorrect

Brad leads, 2-0. 

WOW!!! Could it be happening?!?! Clearly Brendan seemed somewhat flustered by the new "sudden death" format. I guarantee you I wasn't feeling the least bit cocky at this point. As such, I wasn't going to let up. Going for the jugular here. 

Question three: In the 45-year history of Monday Night Football, there have been 11 play-by-play announcers (between ABC & ESPN, including playoffs). Name them. 

Brad (buzzing in first): Al Michaels. Correct.
Brendan: Mike Tirico. Correct. 
Brad: Frank Gifford. Correct.
Brendan: Chris Berman. Correct
Brad: Keith Jackson. Correct
Brendan (taking the entire allotted 15 seconds; No guess).

To quote the aforemetioned Mr. Michaels: Do you believe in miracles? YESSSSSS!!!!!!

Brad prevails, 3-0. It was my first time defeating Brendan and, more importantly, my first trivia championship!!!

On top of that, I received a $50 gift card for fine dining at the host establishment (in this case, Burrito Loco) as well as a $50 Visa gift card. 

After several miserable failures in Super Bowls in the late 1980s (losing by an average of 32 points in three appearances), the Denver Broncos finally prevailed in Super Bowl XXXII in January 1998. They would go on to win another title the very next year. Is my situation analogous to the '80s and '90s Broncos? I guess we'll find out at Lord Fletcher's next week.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Just walk away, Ray

It was nearly seven months ago when Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice engaged in a physical altercation with his then fiancee (now wife) Janay Palmer. At the time, there was a grainy video released showing Rice emerging from an elevator dragging an unconscious Palmer out into the lobby. It seemed pretty obvious that Palmer was on the worse end of this domestic dispute. Rice would eventually be charged with third-degree aggravated assault.

A few months later, the Ravens organization inexplicably thought it would be a good idea to hold a joint press conference with Rice and his wife. Rice took the time to apologize to the Ravens fans as well as Ravens officials like owner Steve Bisciotti, GM Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh. Strange that he didn't immediately think to make a public apology to his wife, no? Two months later, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Rice a mere two games.

After that disastrous May press conference, the Ravens' official Twitter feed chose to tweet out the following:

If that tweet seemed incredibly tone deaf then imagine the context when TMZ released video footage Monday of how Ms. Palmer wound up in an unconscious state. While exchanging slaps and shoves with Palmer before entering the elevator, Rice culminated the fracas by hitting her so hard that she went airborne before smacking her head on a railing. The outcry from this video being released was so rampant that the Ravens organization had no choice but to terminate Rice's contract immediately and, in the process, delete the aforementioned May 2014 tweet.

As I went through the timeline of the aftermath of the February 2014 incident, I couldn't help but see a complete bungling at every level.

- First, the legal process. How could the state of New Jersey be so lenient on Rice as to slap him with a mere third degree assault, with a chance to have the conviction removed from his record if he successfully completes a diversionary program? Shameful.

- When it was learned that Rice would be suspended for only two games, outrage ensued. A month later, Goodell announced a change in the personal conduct policy regarding domestic violence. First offenders would receive a six game suspension, with a second offense constituting a one-year ban with no guarantee of reinstatement. Since this is Rice's first offense, the letter of the law indicates only a six game ban. But the embattled commish upped Rice's punishment Monday to an "indefinite" suspension. It'll be interesting to see how the NFL Players Union addresses this, if it does at all.

- At best, the commissioner's office acted incompetently and at worst is guilty of a cover up. If Goodell's office didn't see the video of the actual punch, did they not think to make an attempt at obtaining footage? The NFL is a mutli-billion dollar entity that has acted as judge and jury when meting out player punishment. Wouldn't it behoove them to have all the arsenal at its disposal before deciding Rice's fate? Ah, but Goodell et al claim to have never seen the footage of the punch. If indeed that's a lie, it would be very difficult to prove unless a rogue NFL employee can substantiate that statement being false.

While many feel Rice finally has been sufficiently punished (at least from a football standpoint), a lot of people expressed anger at how the NFL and the Ravens organization had to be shamed into making the decisions they did on Monday. But if you feel that Rice should never play in the NFL again, you've likely gotten your wish, so who cares how we arrived there? Plus there has to be some satisfaction that the stuff-shirt NFL execs got their lunch eaten by a Hollywood gossip web site.


Monday, September 08, 2014

Box Score of the Week (The 2,000th post on this blog!)

The Milwaukee Brewers hosted the Cleveland Indians at the old Milwaukee County Stadium - August 26, 1987.


Only six players in MLB history have ever had hitting streaks of at least 40 consecutive games. Going in to this contest, the Brewers' Paul Molitor had hit in 39 straight. He was 0 for 4 when the game entered the 10th inning. The game ended in the bottom of the tenth when Rick Manning knocked in the game-winning run......with Molitor in the on deck circle. 


Sunday, September 07, 2014

I see neon lights whenever you walk by....

After two straight Sundays at the Minnesota State Fair, I'll be back in the Patriot bunker for this afternoon's installment of The Closer. I will be on the air from 1:00 until 3:00 PM Central Time.

At 1:00, I will play a pre-recorded interview with political wonk Matt Mackowiak. Matt and I discuss the prospects for the GOP regaining a majority in the U.S. Senate, the story lines from this past week surrounding the gubernatorial races in Wisconsin and Matt's home state of Texas and the latest on the indictment of current Texas governor Rick Perry.

Then at 2:00, my friend Jeff Kolb will join the broadcast to discuss the local political scene. We'll specifically chat about the bizarre story surrounding Michelle MacDonald, the GOP endorsed candidate for MN Supreme Court, as well as discuss the latest on Minnesota's own gubernatorial race.

Since this is the first Sunday of the 2014 NFL regular season, I will likely check in on how my Vikings are faring as well (for the record, I'm predicting they'll finish 7-9 this season).

So please give us call at (651) 289-4488 if you'd like to discuss any of the topics we 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.....


Wednesday, September 03, 2014

They told me if I voted for Romney,....

...the political discourse in this country would become even less civil.

And they were right.


Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Haters gonna hate; whiny hacks gonna whine

(I)t is one of life's most pronounced ironies that the senator who represents Vegas is such a dim bulb.
-Dennis Miller, referring to Sen. Harry Reid.

When the U.S. Senate next convenes, they will have little more than two weeks to tend to business before heading home in late September. Naturally there is a lot to address, whether it's the continued barbaric killings of Americans by ISIS, a National Debt drawing ever closer to $18 trillion or the multiple jobs bills passed by the U.S. House, which are piling up on Reid's desk.

Apparently all of the aforementioned pressing issues take a distant second to Reid's continued obsession with Charles and David Koch.

Reid has decreed that the Senate's first order of legislative business will be a proposed constitutional amendment that would give Congress the power to regulate every dollar raised and every dollar spent by every political campaign in America.

Put aside the merits — or lack of them — of this particular proposal. Amending the Constitution requires a two-thirds vote in both House and Senate, plus ratification by three-quarters of the states. This particular amendment, supported mostly by progressive Democrats, won't even get past the first step. So why would Reid devote precious time to an entirely futile exercise?

Because the Senate's brief two weeks in Washington are all about the campaign to come.

In recent months, Reid has used the proposed amendment as a way to bash the Koch brothers, the billionaires who fund a number of conservative and libertarian political causes. Some strategists believe villainizing the Kochs will allow Democratic candidates not only to associate Republican opponents with the villains, but also to use the Kochs as a symbol for economic inequality and blame Republicans for the nation's economic woes.

But because of the special nature of constitutional amendments, the coming Senate debate could play out more as a time waster than a serious policy discussion.

Unlike an ordinary bill, a constitutional amendment requires 67 votes to pass. So far, the campaign finance amendment doesn't even have the support of all of the Senate's 55 Democrats, and no Republican has come out in favor of it. Even if every Democrat voted for it, it would fall far short of passage.

It's rare for a Majority Leader to propose a measure he knows has zero chance of passing; that alone suggests the fundamentally political nature of Reid's strategy.

Ah, but this isn't any majority leader. This is a vapid, insufferable hack who essentially calls citizens liars when they convey testimonials of disastrous results due to Obamacare. Reid is also someone who has made racially insensitive remarks about President Obama as well as a bad joke about Asians when in the presence of the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce.

With all that said, why should it come as any surprise that Reid (who has been Senate Majority Leader for nearly 8 years now) would attempt to use the upper legislative chamber to preserve his stature as Majority Leader? The Republicans have a legitimate chance to seize control of the Senate this November, thus giving the GOP complete control of Congress. That has to have Dingy Harry sputtering in his Metamucil.

It's no coincidence that President Obama rarely (if ever) refers to the Senate when speaking of a dysfunctional Congress given that said body is controlled by his own party. But perhaps the more prevalent reason Obama steers clear of mentioning the Senate is it would shine a light on the droning septuagenarian leader who whines about not being able to go home to enjoy his pomegranate trees in Nevada because of that pesky legislation he was elected to enact.

It may not be the worst idea in the world for the National Republican Senatorial Committee to buy TV ads which merely play Reid's incessant buffoonery on an endless loop.


Monday, September 01, 2014

Box Score of the Week

Anaheim Angels vs. Kansas City Royals - June 10. 1997.


In my opinion, the greatest catch made in a regular season game took place on 6/10/1997 in Kansas City.

Judge for yourself.