Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Big Ticket is Selling His House

Kevin Garnett is selling his Lake Minnetonka home for a cool 53.5 million. If you can swing the $133,638 annual property taxes, this could be the home for you. And this is a great time to buy too: I bet you could low-ball K.G. with a $45 million offer in this market.

Update (03-28-08): Turns out this was a rumor. For more on this erroneous report, click here. Guess I wasn't the only one who was duped. The home he actually owned in Orono cost him $6.45 million. That seems a bit more reasonable. I bet someone got a reasonable deal on his home in this market though.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Timberwolves Problems Start at the Top

Pioneer Press reporter Rick Alonzo's recent two-part Q&A with Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor reveals the dysfunction behind the scenes at Target Center. Here are some highlights from part one, which focuses mostly on management, beginning with setting the record straight on Flip Saunders' role in torpedoing the organization,
...the Chauncey (Billups) thing (in 2002, when Billups left Minnesota as a free agent). Kevin came to me and asked me for the money. He wanted to keep Chauncey, and I OK'd it. And Flip didn't think Chauncey was going to make it. So Kevin said we're crazy to spend this kind of money on a guy if the coach is saying that Chauncey isn't going to make it...Chauncey really wanted to stay. Chauncey came to us and was like, I really like it here. You guys have really renewed my life. I think this is really a good team. We said, listen, if another team will pay you, you better take it, because if you come here, you may be the backup (point) guard. You probably will be. As it would have worked out, he would have been the starting guard.

Then K.G. came along and he says, well, Flip doesn't have it anymore. That really puts McHale on the spot. He says, well, now if the star guy says the coach doesn't have it and we can't make it, it's kind of like, did Kevin (McHale) get rid of Flip, or did K.G. say none of us on the team trust Flip anymore? I will tell you this: Flip came to me earlier and asked to resign, said he'd resign. And McHale talked him into staying on.

I know when Flip did go, I called up Flip and said, OK, you're out, and he says yeah. I told Flip, I'd like to maybe keep you in the organization in another spot. He said OK, I'll do that. I know that two weeks later, he changed it all around, that he got fired and nobody talked to him. I know it didn't go down that way, and I know (McHale) got blamed for that.

Taylor goes on to throw his current General Manager, Kevin McHale, under the bus,
Kevin is very poor on details. You've got to recognize what he is good at and what he's not good at. And generally, if we've kind of failed, it's been some of the details stuff.

What kind of details?

Let's just say if you're doing a trade. Checking a little bit more, checking into background a little bit more. I think some of the other teams probably have done a little bit better job. Going to Europe, knowing the guys a little bit better. Some of the details like that.

I think Kevin is a little bit like me. Either I like somebody or I don't like somebody, which is fine. But you better have some detail people behind you supporting that, making sure your feelings are right. I'm talking more about business, but I still see Kevin's job as more business.

Could we run as good without Kevin? I'm not sure we couldn't run as good without Kevin. If Kevin came and resigned, would I accept? I probably would. Do I want to fire him? Why would I want to embarrass him? He's done a lot of good.

How would you like to come to work the next morning knowing your boss told the entire world, that his company would run fine without you? In other words, you don't make a difference, and the only reason you are still employed is because he doesn't want to embarrass you. As if that statement isn't embarrassing enough.

Part two of the interview focuses on players and coaches, past and present. First, Taylor speaks about the team's effort under Wittman last year,

I didn't see it...I thought I was going to see it when Randy took over. I don't think I saw it like what I expected to see. There was some improvement, but I don't think he ever got it.

So why did you re-sign Wittman to be the permanent coach?

I don't know if we could have made those changes with K.G. here. I don't know that Randy would have made any difference if K.G. was here. I think without K.G., with new guys, it might work with Randy.

It has more to do with K.G., and K.G. not liking Mike James, and Marko (Jaric), and he didn't like Mark Blount. Heavens, half the starting team. And Ricky (Davis) didn't listen to (Wittman). So it was kind of like, holy gripes. But I don't know who I could have brought in. I know I would have had to bring in a really experienced guy. There weren't too many guys available.

Maybe the Houston coach (former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy). I probably would have gone after him, because he could have come up here and maybe set the tone. You would have had to have had a guy like that. But once I made up my mind, which I did pretty early after the season ... that K.G. was gone, by that time, it was like, well then I think if I do that, then I think Randy can work.

So, basically Randy Wittman was plan "D"? Nice Glen. Way to give the new guy a vote of confidence. I'm sure young coaches are clamoring to sit on the sidelines of the Target Center.

Now, for the bombshell. Apparently, the captain of all captains, 'Sota's beloved Big Ticket, played a crucial role in this team's failure last year.
I think there was a lot of stuff going on that we just couldn't talk about publicly. K.G. wanted Trenton (Hassell, forward) around. K.G. wanted Troy (Hudson, guard) around. And those guys took advantage of the situation, and it drove me nuts. I thought both of those guys could have been better players. But somehow because K.G. stuck up for them, they probably would have both been better players this year without K.G. But they had gone down the rope so far...

They just didn't put the effort into it like they should have. Somehow, Trenton thought he had earned the starting role, and K.G. would keep him on the starting role. Neither guy would help certain teammates out on the floor. It wasn't as apparent to me until Wittman said, "here's what they're doing, watch them". They would run a play, and Trenton was supposed to cover for the other guy, and he wouldn't cover for the other guy. The fans didn't know that. So the other guy looked pretty stupid.
Maybe, instead of deflecting blame, and passing the buck, Glen Taylor should look in the mirror. How does an owner allow a general manager who is poor on the details remain in his position? Is it possible that the poor team chemistry was a result of McHale's failure to look into the details when acquiring certain players? Finally, since NBA contracts are guaranteed, why not bring in a coach who would effectively address these issues rather than let them fester? Really, Timberwolves fans cannot blame Kevin McHale for fulfilling his employers low expectations. However, we can blame Glen Taylor for not holding anyone in this organization accountable. So, T-Wolves fans, let's stop blaming McHale and go straight to the top and demand some accountability.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I know it's late, but I had to post this cover of the New Yorker. Hilarious. In case you missed it, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, satirically pictured above, stated in his address at Columbia University, "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals like in your country [America]...In Iran we don't have this phenomenon, I don't know who's told you that we have it." See for yourself.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Joe Girardi Should Manage the Yanks

Joe Girardi should be the next manager of the Yankees. While Don Mattingly may be the sexy pick, and the most popular with the fans (he was my favorite player growing up), Girardi is the man for the job for the following reasons:

1. He was a major league catcher. Catchers have always made for good major league managers. The decisions they make on the field prepares them for the decisions they may someday make from the dugout. Joe Torre, Bob Brenly, Bruce Bochy, and Mike Scioscia, were also catchers.

2. Related to the first point, Girardi's experience as a catcher will help him manage the Yankee pitching staff. This is especially important considering the Yankees have such promising young hurlers on the horizon: Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, and Dellin Betances. I'm not so sure a former first baseman (Mattingly), who has no managing experience at any level, can adequately manage these young pitchers.

3. Finally, he has successfully managed in the big leagues. In 2006 he managed a young Florida Marlins team and developed youngsters such as Dan Uggla, Hanley Ramirez, Josh Willingham, Scott Olsen, Anibal Sanchez, and Josh Johnson. This, to me, is the most appealing aspect of Girardi's resume. As Brian Cashman has refocused the Yankee vision from free agent spending to player development, it is crucial that the manager at the apex of the Yankee system can get the most out its players. Girardi has a track record, Mattingly doesn't.

The X-factor in all of this will be how Girardi, or whoever is chosen, handles the New York media. Joe Torre's strength, as Buster Olney points out, was not necessarily his tactical brilliance, but his ability to navigate the gauntlet that is the New York media. A legend like Don Mattingly, who regularly receives standing ovations in Yankee stadium, or a strategic player developer like Girardi both could be swallowed whole by those reporters. So, in the end, the Yankee job just might come down to survival of the fittest, in which case resumes can be thrown out the window.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Another Reason to Dislike Michael Jordan

You should all be ashamed of yourselves for viewing this man as a role model. Absolutely ashamed.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

White Privilege, Steve Nash, and My Love for Larry Bird

TrueHoop linked to the following post by Cosellout, "It's Not Steve Nash's Fault!: A Study in White Privilege.”

Some highlights:
It was the media that often used Nash as a tool to: denigrate black athletes; to perpetuate tired racial stereotypes; to revise current and past basketball history; and, by contrast, to ignore or give token treatment to the incredible community service of men like Marbury, Mutombo, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal, Alonzo Mourning, Carmelo Anthony, Richard Jefferson and so many others.

…But the truth is, it’s YOUR fault!

That’s right, it is your fault if you like up-tempo basketball and tuned into the Suns in the playoffs last year, but did not watch the Warriors-Mavericks historic series; if you appreciate the finest of pure point guard play, but didn’t witness last year’s playoff series’ that featured Jason Kidd AVERAGING a triple-double or the coming out party of Utah’s Derron Williams; if you praised Nash’s politics [protesting the American policy in Iraq], but never acknowledged the existence of Etan Thomas; or if the reason why Marbury’s community service can’t garner a magazine cover is because the big bosses know full well that you won’t buy a copy. Yup, it is YOUR fault!
(If you haven’t read any of Etan Thomas’ stuff, you should.)

More takes from the Steve Nash-White Privilege post:
Nor is Nash to blame because commentators can’t see past the white athlete stereotype. Like when former NBA great Bill Walton marveled at Nash’s achievements a couple of years ago in part because he was "the least athletic point guard in the NBA." While Nash has never been a great leaper, perhaps Walton never took notice of Nash blowing by most opposing guards in the league on a nightly basis. We could only guess that lateral quickness and agility have absolutely nothing to do with athleticism. Because such a reality might put a dent in the romantic notion that Nash is just like every other white guy on the couch with a TV remote, but just worked that much harder than all those “natural black athletes”. But the truth is that Nash was a highly gifted three-sport star (soccer and hockey) who had professional potential besides basketball…

So from now on, I will go back to rooting for Steve Nash, and for everything that he represents. I’ll root for his game, his community service and most urgently, for his anti-war stance to be heard by as many people as possible. And if he is not facing my beloved Knicks in the finals, I might even root hard for him to get that championship ring. But it is simply not fair or ethical to wildly root for Nash, but not challenge the white privilege that he regularly receives by a media that predominantly looks likes him, lives vicariously through him, and probably wants to BE him. Rooting for Nash comes with the added responsibility of demanding the very same accolades, credit, and attention be given to any other athlete who is just as worthy, if not more worthy of our praise. So yes, it is clearly my fault because while I was innocently cheering for Steve Nash, enjoying his on-court game, and admiring his off-court causes, it took me this long to write why “It’s Not Steve Nash’s Fault”.
You really need to read this post in its entirety, it’s very good. As difficult a pill as it may be to swallow, I can’t say there’s much I disagree with in this post. I’ve often asked myself, “Why choose Larry Bird as your favorite player? Why not Magic Johnson, Isaiah Thomas, or Michael Jordan?” I think it had a lot to do with living “vicariously through” him like Cosellout accused members of the media of doing. I’m sure much of it had to do with the fact that we were both white, but I also think my choosing him had a lot to do with our lack of athleticism (unlike Steve Nash). There was this idea that even though we couldn’t jump as high as our opponents, or run as fast, we could still dominate (or at least compete) by doing the little things on the basketball court. It was obviously an ideal that could only by realistically attained by a few, but it made him relatable, and isn’t that the point?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Thoughts on Columbus Day

So today is Columbus Day and I'm trying to figure out why many American states honor his legacy with a holiday. According to the Library of Congress, President Benjamin Harrison urged Americans to remember Oct. 12th, the date of Columbus' landing. The Knights of Columbus followed by lobbying state legislatures to make it a legal holiday, and Colorado was the first to do so in 1907. Columbus Day was made a federal holiday in 1971. So, we continue to honor this day because it's been tradition?

Virtually no one believes Columbus was the first European on American soil. The Vikings landed on the shores of Newfoundland 500 years prior to his arrival. Furthermore, some historians believe the Chinese arrived in the New World around 1421, trumping Columbus by 71 years.

If that's not enough, his arrival on Hispaniola, killed the entire Taino population. Sure, he could not have predicted the effect European diseases would have upon these natives, so we can't hold him and those Europeans followed totally accountable, but many Taino did die because of forced labor, and that is something we can hold them accountable for.

Many historians and certainly Native Americans will also argue that the Conquistadors were a direct result of Columbus' arrival (which seems perfectly logical to me). So, Columbus wasn't just an explorer who challenged the flat-world assumptions of the day to find a new trade route, but was instead the first of a long line of dominoes that led to the Spanish colonization of Latin America, a legacy that is still crippling natives today.

So, again I ask, what about Christopher Columbus' legacy deserves a holiday? If we are just honoring tradition, shouldn't we stop and ask why? Some traditions are worth changing.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

God is Picking Teams

There is significant evidence that God is choosing sides on the field of sports. If anyone has watched the Colorado Rockies play this season, you're aware of their Phoenix-like impression, rising from the ashes in the second half of the season. How could they do this without some help from on high? They've won 18 of their last 19 games. They defeated the National League's top Cy Young candidate, Jake Peavy, in a do-or-die, playoff tiebreaker to claim the NL wildcard. They've swept the Philadelphia Phillies, even though Matt Holliday still hasn't touched home plate. They dominated last year's Cy Young winner, Brandon Webb to take a 1-0 lead in the NLCS. God is certainly at work here. Consider this, from a USA Today column printed in June,
No copies of Playboy or Penthouse are in the clubhouse of baseball's Colorado Rockies. There's not even a Maxim. The only reading materials are daily newspapers, sports and car magazines and the Bible.

Music filled with obscenities, wildly popular with youth today and in many other clubhouses, is not played. A player will curse occasionally but usually in hushed tones. Quotes from Scripture are posted in the weight room. Chapel service is packed on Sundays. Prayer and fellowship groups each Tuesday are well-attended. It's not unusual for the front office executives to pray together.

On the field, the Rockies are trying to make the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons and only the second time in their 14-year history. Behind the scenes, they quietly have become an organization guided by Christianity — open to other religious beliefs but embracing a Christian-based code of conduct they believe will bring them focus and success.

And this from Rockies chairman and CEO Charlie Monfort,
"We started to go after character six or seven years ago, but we didn't follow that like we should have," he says. "I don't want to offend anyone, but I think character-wise we're stronger than anyone in baseball. Christians, and what they've endured, are some of the strongest people in baseball. I believe God sends signs, and we're seeing those."
Finally this from General Manager Dan O'Dowd, quoted October 12th, in the Independent, "You look at some of the moves we made and didn't make...You look at some of the games we're winning. Those aren't just a coincidence. God has definitely had a hand in this."

If this doesn't convince you that God is trying his hand at sports, then turn your attention to the NFL, specifically the NFC North , where the Detroit Lions sit at 3-2, having defeated the defending NFC champion Chicago Bears two weeks ago (that alone is evidence of divine intervention). They did lose to the Washington Redskins last week, however. Upon further review, though, this isn't a huge surprise, considering the Redskins head coach is Joe Gibbs. His website offers a Joe Gibbs bible and "Joe's weekly spiritual gameplan" via email. So, if I'm a Detroit Lions fan, it is not a big surprise that the 3-1 Washington Redskins, would hand me a loss. After all, God has got to love Joe Gibbs' website. Maybe he's a better Christian, even?

But God must love the Detroit Lions too. Their leader, Jon Kitna has turned his life around from being a shoplifting, drunk, "womanizing," QB at Central Washington University to a born-again Christian who blasts Christian rock in the his NFL locker room and leads teammates to Christ. Apparently 20 of his Detroit teammates have become Christians since his signing with the team. You think that might get a little wink from God?

To top it all off, in case you haven't heard, on September 16th, against the Vikings, Kitna was knocked out of the game with a concussion only to return and lead his team to a 20-17 victory. He called it a miracle, "I've never felt anything like that, and for it to clear up and go right back to as normal as I can be, is nothing short of a miracle," Kitna said. "I just definitely feel the hand of God. That's all it was. You can't explain it."

Well, I'm convinced, God is picking teams: Rockies, Lions and Redskins. Any thoughts on which NBA team he'll pick? I'm praying for the Celtics.

UPDATE (11-16-07): By the way, this post is facetious.

"Pro-Life" Shouldn't Be About One Issue

On Saturday, Sept. 29th fifty leaders of the social conservative movement gathered in Salt Lake City, Utah to discuss their plan of attack in the event that the presidential nominee for the Republican and Democratic parties are both pro-choice. To clarify the events that took place at that meeting, James Dobson wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times. In it he writes of the conclusions the group came to, "If neither of the two major political parties nominates an individual who pledges himself or herself to the sanctity of human life, we will join others in voting for a minor-party candidate. Those agreeing with the proposition were invited to stand. The result was almost unanimous."

He continues to ponder with pen the possibility that voting for a pro-life candidate could cost social conservatives the presidency,
The other approach, which I find problematic, is to choose a candidate according to the likelihood of electoral success or failure. Polls don’t measure right and wrong; voting according to the possibility of winning or losing can lead directly to the compromise of one’s principles. In the present political climate, it could result in the abandonment of cherished beliefs that conservative Christians have promoted and defended for decades. Winning the presidential election is vitally important, but not at the expense of what we hold most dear.
Another issue discussed on that Saturday was the possibility of backing a third party candidate that would run as the pro-life alternative. There was less unanimity on this topic. Rasmussen Reports ran a poll on how such a third party candidate would effect the election, and the results aren't very encouraging for social conservatives. If it comes down to Giuliani, Clinton, and __________ (3rd party candidate), the poll indicates that the 3rd party votes would tip the election in favor of Hillary Clinton. I can't imagine James Dobson and his 49 friends thrilled about that outcome.

Of course, I cannot imagine James Dobson failing to foresee such an outcome either. One can't help to think this is more of a political threat than it is actual contingency planing (you don't actually think these leaders would support a pro-life Democrat do you?). Something along the lines of, "Lest you forget Republican party, social conservatives carry serious capital every election cycle. We delivered the White House to President Bush, and we can do the same for the next Republican nominee, but do not take us for granted. Our vote does not come cost-free. Bend on abortion or we'll take our votes elsewhere."

So, for social conservatives, I ask this one question: Are there other ways to protect the sanctity of life? I understand the opposition to abortion. I am father to a beautiful 8 month old baby girl. I am aware of the outrageous numbers of abortions that occur in this country. I've heard the commercials on my local Christian radio station calling abortion "genocide" and citing it as the number one killer in this country, however, I can't help but to think there might be other issues dedicated to preserving the sanctity of life. Here are some examples of such 'pro-life' issues :
  • Opposition to war. Not just the U.S. war in Iraq, but wars in general. Are the lives lost in war not as valuable as an unborn fetus? Can one support war and be pro-life?
  • Opposition to the death penalty in all fifty states.
  • Support pouring resources into improving inner city ministries and charities where the cycle of drug use and gang violence leads many to the conclusion that death is inevitable.
  • Support Stem-cell research. Tell Michael J. Fox you value life in one sentence and don't support stem cell research in the next. See how he responds.
  • Support any U.S. legislation that increases financial assistance for AIDS relief in Africa and in other parts of the world.
  • Support efforts to end the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. If abortion truly is the American "genocide," why is this "genocide" worth more activism than the Sudanese?
It seems as if Mr. Dobson and his friends have simplified the issue of 'life' to one single issue, abortion. Either you are pro-life and you value life, or you're pro-choice and you don't. While I agree that abortion is an important issue, I also agree that life is not about one single issue, and social conservatives would do well to broaden there view to reflect this. Because, the way things are looking now, there's going to be a pro-choice candidate in office.

So, I'd recommend finding out how Republican and Democratic candidates feel about these other issues of "life." Or are social conservatives only concerned about certain types of lives?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

2007 MLB Division Series Predictions

NLDS: Rockies v. Phillies
Honestly, this is the series that intrigues me most. It really is a shame these two have to meet in the first round because they are the two hottest teams in baseball right now. Other than Cole Hamels, the Phils have no front-line starting pitchers. Do you really want to go to battle with Jamie Moyer and Kyle Kendrick in October? Didn't think so. The Rockies on the other hand, have some young studs (Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales) with some nasty stuff to go along with their anchor, Jeff Francis. And we all know about their bats, and the more I watch and read about Troy Tolowitzki, the more I like the guy. It is very difficult to pick against guys like Rollins, Rowand, and Utley though.
Prediction: Rockies in 5

NLDS: Chicago v. Arizona
At the other end of the spectrum is this series: I could care less. The Cubs sneaked into the playoffs as the best team in the junior varsity league (the NL Central). There were three weeks in mid-summer when Sweet Lou had his team clicking on all cylinders, but, predictably, they faltered (so did the Brewers). When they 'click' they can be nasty, but that is a rare occurrence. The postseason comes down to pitching for the Cubbies. They will beat the D-backs, but their NLCS hopes and beyond ride on Carlos Zambrano and that bullpen. It's time for Big Z and those relievers to start earning their paychecks.
Prediction: Chicago in 4

ALDS: Boston v. Los Angeles
Mike Scioscia's team gets from first to third better than anyone in baseball. They have to, they are no friend of the long ball. That ability to manufacture runs will be key in this series as runs will be scarce for both squads. They'll each be pitching John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzka twice. Plus, both bullpens are stellar, although the Angels bullpen has lost a bit of its luster as of late. And, don't underestimate the loss of Tim Wakefield. His knuckleball can be a serious weapon in the postseason, in any role. The difference in this series should be the Red Sox lineup.
Prediction: Boston in 4

ALDS: New York v. Cleveland
This should be a great matchup. Though New York has owned Cleveland throughout the regular season, Cleveland will be throwing two of the top three Cy Young candidates (Fausto Carmona and C.C. Sabathia) at New York during this five game series. Add to that, Cleveland's formidable lineup top to bottom. Of course, the Bronx Bombers are in a league of their own. Their patience at the plate should allow them to get to the Cleveland bullpen by the sixth or seventh inning of each contest, where they'll encounter the league's best lefty, righty combo, Rafael Perez and Rafael Betancourt. Expect many of these games to be decided in the later evenings. We'll see if Cleveland manager Eric Wedge's decision to keep Joe Borowski as closer was the right move. One interesting twist, and perhaps not so positive for the Yanks, Joe Torre has elected to start four different starters in games 1-4 (Wang, Pettitte, Clemens, and Mussina). How that effects the outcome remains to be seen.
Prediction: Cleveland in 5

It should be noted that I made these predictions with my head and not my heart. Had I done them with my heart, the Yankees would not be losing in the ALDS.