Links of the Day 8/30/15

Thus finishes the final weekend that won’t be awash in football. Enjoy it. Watch baseball.

Tragedy struck at last night’s Braves game, when a fan fell to his death from the upper deck. 

A list of some players that were in the Little League World Series, and later went on to play in MLB. 

The Packers are going to hurt at WR. If Rodgers is any good, this won’t matter, honestly.

SCOREBOARD
NCAAF
Montana 38, North Dakota State 35 – The football season got started early in 1-AA, and saw NDSU as surprise losers. I think they have won the last 14 titles, or something like that.
MLB
Seattle 7, Chicago 6 – The Mariners are surging! Watch out — never mind, they’re out of it.
Houston 4, Minnesota 1 – The Twins lost, so I’m sure all the columnists in the Twin Cities will handle it well. (MASSIVE HINT FOR TONIGHT’S POST)

Luck of the Draw

Champions League

On Thursday, the groups for the Champions League were drawn. There are always some story lines to any season, and to any draw, and there were certainly some for this one. First timer’s Astana the first team from Kazakhstan were eager to see their opponents. They ended up in Group C, squaring off against Benfica, Atletico Madrid and Galatasaray. The Europa League champion was granted entry into the Champions League Group Stage as well. That means there is a Spanish team in 5/8 groups this year, with Sevilla winning Europa last year.

The biggest Draw story, though, was the new way that UEFA allocated the pots, pre-draw. The top 8 domestic champions were slotted into Pot 1, regardless of club coefficient. This year, that meant teams like PSV Eindhoven, Zenit and Juventus were in Pot 1, where they would have been in Pot 2, or even Pot 3 in PSV’s case. This hoped to make winning a domestic league more important, and potentially diversify the knockout stage with teams in lesser associations getting a leg up. There is still definitely a team that had the best, most advantageous draw, and on the opposite end of the perspective, a Group of Death.

It seems natural to assume that the team from Pot 2 that drew PSV would be the greatest beneficiary of the new system, and while that’s the case, it’s probably not just Manchester United (the team that meets those criteria) that really benefits. Not only is PSV weak, but so too is CSKA Moscow, the team from Pot 3. Wolfsburg, a German team from Pot 4 also seems to benefit from this new system. Manchester United is the best team that would have been in Group 2 regardless of how this draw had played out, so there was no misfortune in being in Group 2. Wolfsburg hasn’t spent much time playing in Europe, so they were going to be slotted into Pot 4, and ended up dodging any serious bullets. They might win the group.

On the other hand, there are some tough groups still as well. Which is the toughest? In my opinion, that honor goes to Group 4. The aforementioned Sevilla had the misfortune of being paired with last season’s runner up, Juventus from Italy. From Pot 2, Group D was given Machester City, who won the EPL as recently as 2 years ago, and many observers expected to see make a bigger impact internationally over the last few years. Wrapping things up in Borussia Monchengladbach, one of the two German teams that somehow have a coefficient worthy of Pot 4. Monchengladbach was recently promoted back into Die Bundesliga, but finished 3rd last season.

The games start in 2 1/2 weeks. The first round of competition begins on the 15th with Groups A-D. Where will this year’s Champion come from?

Links of the Day 8/29/15

Happy last weekend of August. I hope you are OK with summer coming to an end.

Illinois is a weak before their football season, and fired their football coach. 

Blake Swihart hit an inside the park home run. That’s tough to do.

Dodgers legendary announcer Vin Scully is coming back for year 67. 

SCOREBOARD
Football League Championship
Blackburn 0, Bolton 0 – Nothing happening here. Nothing at all in Blackburn.
MLB
Seattle 2, Chicago 0 – Nothing happening here, either. Both of these teams do, in theory, have good rotations.
Minnesota 3, Houston 0 – Kyle Gibson is pretty good, sometimes.

It appears someone at Google News has been listening to the Podcast

Rougned Odor

 

In case you don’t know what Google News is, it puts together all the news that is interesting to you, from your preferred source. It automatically refreshes, and is generally a great way to keep tabs on the world if, say, Twitter or a television are unavailab.e

Google being Google, it also makes inferences into your personal tastes. Am I interested in Rougned Odor? Why yes I am. Thank you for listening to the podcast. 

Links of the Day 8/28/15

You made it. Mad respect.

Russell Wilson believes in magic. 

The Champions League Group Stage was drawn yesterday. 

Miguel Sano doing Miguel Sano things. 

SCOREBOARD
Europa League
Steaua 1, Rosenborg 0 – RBK already had  3-0 lead i the lead, and didn’t really play at full speed. Tehy will be in pot 4 for today’s draw.
MLB
Tampa Bay 5, Minnesota 4- The Rays ended Minnesota’s 6 game winning streek, which is pretty great. I mean, the 6 game streak was great.
Chicago 4, Seattle 2 – If we believed the predictions, this should be Seattles stretch run, before the playoffs.

Almost the team we are looking for

Buxton

The Twins have really surprised this year. Their ability to stay afloat this year has been exciting, and has directly lead to the organization’s willingness to upgrade their roster internally, advancing prospects to prominent roles. The team’s pitching, of course, is abysmal, but the position players are set, perhaps for years to come.

Even the lineup looks good. Byron Buxton is the leadoff man of the future, while Brian Dozier is best used with runners on base ahead of him. Joe Mauer is batting 3rd, which is where he has always been. He has the highest average of any of the opening day starters, and will start seeing better pitches now that opponents will fear Miguel Sano, behind him. After that, Eddie Rosario and Trevor Plouffe belong, with Rosario and Dozier being options to swap in the lineup. Eduardo Escobar is, at least, an average shortstop, and Kurt Suzuki is really only bad by comparison to the skill level attributed to him. That is to say, he isn’t as good as people say, but he’s perfectly fine, if he is the weakest link.

The primary problem, then, is Torii Hunter. He’s the worst every day player on the team right now, and has even seen some of his play time given to Shane Robinson. Fortunately, next year this won’t be an issue. It seems as though Aaron Hicks has regained the trust of his manager. Hunter won’t be under contract next year, and Hicks will slide in to left, moving Rosario to right. Oswaldo Arcia may end up a mighty bench bat to solidify a paltry bench.

That is a formidable offense (and defense) for 2016 and further into the future. There is still a need for a front of the rotation starter, and the Twins will likely have to part with some of the wealth of talent in their outfield to get it. If they don’t, though, this is still going to be a fun team to watch, not only this year, but for the next several.

Links of the Day 8/27/15

Thursday. One week until college football season.

Even these supposedly positive observations about Purdue sound depressing. 

St. Paul voted to welcome a new MLS stadium, but don’t expect to get it.  

A worker at US Bank stadium died in an a fall yesterday. He was 35

SCOREBOARD
MLB
Minnesota 5, Tampa 3 – Eduardo Escobar hit two home runs. Eduardo Escobar! 2!
Boston 3, Chicago 0 – RIck Porcello is still not afraid of the White Sox.

Running backs I like

Gurley

Fantasy football season is right around the corner, and that means everyone is trying to figure out who the breakout star will be, and how they can lead their team to earn some cash. The positions to do that are wide receiver and running back, because there are multiple roster spots to fill, whereas there is only, say, one or two quarterbacks per team.

Wide receivers, of course, are dependent on their quarterback, where as a running back is reliant on usage and his offensive line. If he is used a lot, say in a passing offense, then his value is greater in a PPR league. Other than that, however, a running back is the master of his own stats, .Should that player get injured, well, it’s not the end of the world.

What I am saying, is that quantity of running backs is important, more so than top end quality even. So who are some running backs to keep an eye on? Here are 7 backs that I like, all appearing in the top 150 overall players in Yahoo’s preseason rankings.

  • Eddie Lacy, Packers: Lacy got off to a slow start last year, but came on strong. He will likely see his value increase with Jordy Nelson out for the year.
  • Lamar Miller, Dolphins: Did you know he ran for over 1000 yards last year? Me either! More importantly, he was targeted 52 times, which is important in those PPR leagues.
  • Melvin Gordon, Chargers: The rookie will likely be the feature back for the Chargers. Ryan Mathews didn’t work out there, but maybe Gordon will. He should certainly be healthier.
  • Carlos Hyde, 49ers – He didn’t work out great for me last year, but with Frank Gore gone, Hyde should feature more prominently in San Francisco’s plans this year.
  • Todd Gurley, Rams – The Rams drafted him in the top 10. They plan on using him. He was nicked up early, but is back healthy, and by the end of the year, likely won’t be splitting time with Tre Mason.
  • Alfred Blue, Texans – Likely early value, with Arian Foster on the shelf.
  • Bishop Sankey, Titans – This is where it gets a little tougher. I still have hope for Sankey, despite a miserable first year. Hopefully they play him now that Shonn Green is gone.

As always, stay tuned to the waiver wire and pick up whoever is playing against the Colts D as well.

Links of the Day 8/26/15

Halfway home, guys. This is good, especially for you school kids. You almost did it! One week down!

Joe Mauer has struggled a bit since coming to Target Field. Maybe he just likes hitting in gross old mausoleums. 

Richard Pitino, who is named “Pitino” earned an extension from the Gophers, primarily on the strength of his being named “Pitino”,

The most regrettable moves of the last MLB offseason. Guess what number 4 is?

SCOREBOARD
MLB
Minnesota 11, Tampa Bay 7 – Another gem from Ervin Santana. Fortunately, he was bailed out by the young bats on the team.
Chicago 5, Boston 4 – AL Central < AL East.

Entertainment Roundup: What are you doing to your body?

I’ve always liked the idea of going to the State Fair. I like seeing the booths and the animals and the various shops at the fair. I like Machinery Hill, because I’m a little boy who likes big trucks. I haven’t been to a show there, because I don’t care for the crowds at live shows (and I’m from the suburbs: Alan Jackson and Merle Haggard aren’t in my wheelhouse) but I can understand why people would want to go.

There are a lot of good things about the Fair. All everyone talks about is the food. All you can smell is the food (or pre-food, if you are in the hog barn). So people eat and eat and eat, I admit, once I went to the Fair with a bigger guy just to see how much he could put down. He was at the beginning of a new diet and only ate a corn dog. I ate more.

And there is so much new every year, there is no way anyone can try everything. There’s no way anyone SHOULD try everything. There’s no reasonable purpose to try ANYTHING at the Fair, unless the goal is to fill in your punch card at Angioplasties Я Us. Tell me how it’s a good idea to work through a list that includes “Mac & Cheese Cupcake,” “Italan Desert Nachos,” “Maple Bacon Funnel Cake,” “Spam Burger,” “Totchos (Tater tot nachos),”Sriracha Balls,” or “Deep Fried Ribs” And that’s just some of the new stuff There is even more leftover from last year! People go to the fair and buy cookies BY THE BUCKET. The State Fair is a death wish.

Anyways, have a good time, to those of you going. I’m really jealous.