You are in the hands of Brian Lee Rivers every day 10am-3pm on KJ-108. This is working man's radio with a guy at the controls that REALLY knows his rock! BLR brings you Classic and new rock that you can listen to all day long. Plus, at high noon, the Electric Lunch; Win lunch from the Red Pepper of Grand Forks with the Lost Lyric Competition, Name That Album, and more! This REALLY is radio that you can lock into and stay with all day long!
I’ve got two boys that I’m raising and so far they have picked up none of my bad habits. Now that I’m a family man, I left the rock band thing that I did when I was younger. I spent age 17 to 35 or so moonlighting as lead vocalist with a little keyboard playing to help fill out the sound with different bands over those years, Ranging from high school garage bands to serious regional bands that toured a little and to local bands that got it’s ya-ya’s out in small clubs around the area. I was never close to the big time and never expected to get close; I just had a good time doing it. I realized I had to quit because my kids were young and demanding and it was too hard to function as a parent on Sunday morning when you got back from Warroad at . God, do I miss the band thing, but my life with my kids is beyond words and I have no regrets, just a little longing that would probably go away a couple of weeks later if I got back into it again.
My life is Family, Work and Youth Sports right now and it’s been blur.
The UND Football team is coming off a conference win on the road against Idaho State. Two games into the Big Sky conference and UND sits 1-1. Only 3 teams are 2-0. If UND can pull things together and go on a run the conference title is still possible. That is how it sits on paper and there is truth in that. However... Based on what we've seen so far from the squad... Can you still say anything is possible?
Yeah you can... But honestly it's hard to say. You wouldn't be human if the defense hasn't scared the pants off you as a passionate supporter of the Green and White. Montana and Montana State came to town and the punter for both teams could have stayed home to save on travel expenses in both games.
The Win against Idaho sate was much needed but this weekend the talented team from Eastern Washington comes to town and this is a team that is similiar in talent to the Montana squads that went back home real happy. Anything is possible but I'm honestly going to wake up Saturday Morning and start murmuring to myself right away. I'll be murmuring "C'mon D... Make a play... Make a stop" If the defense can do just that. I will tell you without a doubt that anything is possible! If they can't... well... I won't say it.
The Vikings are taking on the Panthers on Sunday. I'd say that there is very little chance of Josh Freeman seeing game action. He's going to need a little time to learn the offense before they hand him the keys. While Josh may not see any game action... I'm willing to bet that he will be given a lot of face time. I wonder what the over/under will be: Total number of television shots and comments of Josh Freeman in uniform on the sideline will be.
According to Leslie Frazier... The Vikings are not done with Christian Ponder yet. At least that is what he is saying publicly. I think that is what Coaches are supposed to say if they want to avoid throwing someone under the bus. However... actions speak louder than words... There is someone in the organization... either the owner, the General Manager or even Coach Frazier who is done with Ponder because Freeman is here.
I know it's easy to forget about the Twins and the completely forgettable 2013 season. It was a long rough season and it's over... but... You have to know where you've been to know where you are going so I'd like to take a look back at the season.
It's painful for us serious Twins fans to reflect on 2013. It's kind of like putting your tongue on a canker sore. It hurts a little when you do it but you do it again and again until it goes away.
I guess you do it so you know that you are alive.
Going into 2013... The Twins were clearly built for power. Nobody expected the Twins starting pitching staff to carry them. It was hoped that Starting pitching would do just well enough that the long ball on offense would collect some wins. The Twins were not going to be that small ball team that Gardenhire and Terry Ryan were successful with back when Ozzie Guillen called them piranhas. They had traded away Denard Span and Ben Revere for needed
pitching prospects and basically removed the speed element from the game. So
they walked into the season with power. So much power and so little speed that Joe Mauer was moved from the #3 spot in the order to the #2 spot. Following Joe Mauer (who is good
for .400 on base percentage every year) #3 through #7 were guys who all had 20
home run potential with regular playing time and the ability to drive Joe in. Willingham, Morneau, Doumit, Plouffe and Parmelee. In the case of Willingham and Plouffe... I'd say 30 home run potential.
Now that 2013 has concluded... We can see what that power did. Leading the team in home runs was Brian Dozier with 18. That's a nice year for Brian Dozier... but if Brian Dozier is leading your team in homers... you have a problem. Brian Dozier leading a team that was supposed to be one of the top power hitting teams in the American League is a huge problem.
Justin Morneau hit 17 dingers but he went through horrible long stretches without home runs. If it wasn't for an August hot streak that happened after it was clear the Twins were out of it... Morneau would have struggled to hit 10.
Josh Willingham hit 35 home runs in 2012... Willingham isn't a high average guy or a top flight defender. His entire game is power... He hit 14 home runs this year with .208 batting average.
Trevor Plouffe hit 24 home runs in 2012 during an injury plagued season. 30 Home runs was certainly possible for Trevor... He hit 14 home runs. Doumit hit 14 dingers and Parmelee
managed to send 8 into the bleachers.
On top of the lack of speed and the lack of power. The Twins struck out at a record setting pace. K's are bad for the simple reason that nothing happens without contact with the ball. Forget the home runs that you are supposed to get. You can't even move a runner over without putting the ball in play. The other teams defense don't have to worry about making an error because the ball isn't coming their way. K's remove any chance you have of accidentally scoring a run.
We had enough veterans that could of carried us but 2013 also introduced some Rookies to the lineup. Rookies that were supposed to be promising... Aaron Hicks and Chris Parmelee
produced well in the minors and were both former 1st round draft choices. There was reason to believe that they could contribute and both struggled mightily. Chris hit .228 with 8 dingers and Aaron Hicks hit .192 with 8 home runs. Oswaldo Arcia is another promising rookie that showed up last year. He showed flashes of his future talent but he was also bitten by the strikeout bug.
When you are striking out at an alarming rate and have very little speed and you are built for power and that power performs well below expectation like this squad did. You are going to need your starting pitching to be overwhelmingly good. This starting pitching staff had no chance to be overwhelmingly good. If you look at the pitching numbers for 2013. They are not
good because we had some pretty bad stinkers from time to time but I believe that the pitching staff wasn't as bad as the numbers suggest. The Twins had the chance to win a few more games because the pitching did keep them in games more often than they didn't but the pitching simply didn't have the talent to shut down teams and with the performance of the offense. They would have had to shut down teams.
The only bright spots on the squad were the bullpen and the double play combination of Brian Dozier and Pedro Florimon. Florimon is a stretch because he's a weak hitter but he was a fantastic defensive SS and you can sacrifice offense for good defense at that position and Pedro was as good as any SS in the league defensively. I'd add Joe Mauer to the list of bright
spots except that Joe did what he always does. Nothing more... Nothing Less.
Based on what they were expected to do and how they did... Here are the Grades:
Starting Pitching: C
It was a bad year and now we have to turn an eye toward 2014 and beyond. Ron Gardenhire is back so clearly it will be up to the players to change or the General Manager to change players.
I believe some people are dancing in Vikings land. I'm not sure if the people dancing are exactly sure what the tune they are dancing to is. Why are they dancing?
1. Well they didn't lose during their bye week so we still feel good after the victory in London.
2. Christian Ponder is hated by some
3. It was announced last night that the Vikings signed QB Josh Freeman.
Josh was the opening day starting QB with Tampa Bay this year but he fell out of favor with Head Coach Greg Schiano. Why did he fall out of favor? The public doesn't know for sure because they only release what they want released. It has been leaked that Josh had missed or and was late to some team events. A Meeting, photo shoot, football camp, team bus. Whatever, the situation... It was bad enough that they kicked him off the squad. They didn't bench him... They kicked him off the squad. The real story usually doesn't come out to the public but it's safe to assume that they were not getting along considering how much time Tampa Bay has invested in Josh Freeman and the action that they took.
A couple of thoughts immediately from me.
1. What happens to Ponder now? It's pretty strange for a club to roster 3 fairly high profile QB's. You'd figure one will have to go. It won't be Freeman since he was just acquired. Maybe they keep all 3 but I'm not sure what that will accomplish.
2. How long will it take for Freeman to learn the playbook. Football does have a lot of basic plays that are somewhat universal and Freeman will be able to run those basic plays but the full depth of the playbook... That will take a little while. I gotta believe either Cassel or Ponder will be starting this week.
3. If the Vikings are moving away from Ponder... That means that Ponder will be considered a first round mistake. Very rarely do you see a first round mistake corrected by signing another teams first round mistake. The current 3 QB's in Minnesota are Ponder who was a failure in Minnesota, Cassel who was a failure in Kansas City and Freeman who was a failure in Tampa Bay. My biggest fear is that one of these 3 guys will play just barely well enough to talk the Vikings out of drafting the without a doubt QB of the future.
4. Can Josh Freeman play defense? We really needed players who can play defense because I still contend that defense has been the Vikings biggest problem this year.
5. Poor Matt Cassel... Matt had the choice of signing with Minnesota or Tampa Bay. I think it's quite possible that Cassel felt it was easier to beat out Ponder than it would have been to beat out Freeman. Now Freeman is here!!! It's a dog eat dog world in the NFL.
6. One year on the contract? What happens in 2014?
Anyway... Welcome aboard Josh Freeman. I wish you the best because my team benefits from your best.
The UND Football team traveled to Idaho and beat Idaho State on Saturday. That victory had to feel good for the coaches and players after two rough weekends at home against Montana and Montana State. Eastern Washington comes to town on Saturday and Eastern Washington is another talented sqaud. I will be wishing, hoping, thinking about improved defensive play for UND all week.
The UND Men's Hockey team made their debut last night. In my opinion... Luke Johnson was the best player on the ice last night. Luke Johnson played hockey at Red River as an 8th Grader and Grand Forks Central as a freshmen and sophomore before moving on to the Lincoln Stars of the USHL for what would have been his Junior and Senior seasons. It's early in the year but the Power Play needs a little work. Vermont comes to town this week to kick off the season.
Ron Gardenhire's new two year contract has caused a PR problem for the Minnesota Twins organization.
The Battle lines are being drawn around Twins Territory. The Pro-Gardy Fans vs. the I Want Gardy Gone Fans". There seems to be more "I Want Gardy Gone Fans"
Reports are surfacing that the Minnesota Twins Players are firmly behind Ron Gardenhire. I assume these reports are coming from Pro-Gardy Media looking for an angle, the Twins PR Machine or both. Who knows... but in consideration of the performance from the players in 2013... I think the concept of players support is kind of amusing. Wouldn't support from this bunch of players be akin to support from the dog that was biting you.
Is it possible that Gardy's clubhouse leadership was a factor in his being given a new two year contract. I'm trying to imagine the conversation between Owner Jim Pohlad and Terry Ryan.
Pohlad: So... Gardenhire?
Ryan: (Gives the Thumbs Up Sign) Let's Keep him
Pohlad: Really? Why?
Ryan: Jim... I'm responsible for giving him the bad baseball players that he had to work with... All in All... I'm very impressed by the job Ron did... Through it all... He hasn't lost the clubhouse. Those players want to play for him.
Pohlad: So... You are saying... The players performed better this year because they want to play for Ron.
Ryan: Yes... Yes I am... Except... Well... No... No I'm not... (Clears Throat) What I'm saying is... that IF the players played better this year. They would be happy to do so under Gardenhire's direction.
Pohlad: Are we keeping those players?
Ryan: No we are not... Ok... Let me rephrase that... We will NOT keep those players IF we can find better players. If we can't... If we can't find better players... We will have to keep them.
Pohlad: If we bring in new players... Will they want to play for Ron? Will they come to Minnesota to play for Ron?
Ryan: Yes they will... Except... Well... No they won't... Because Ron has lost a lot of baseball games the past 3 years. But I want to be clear that if we hadn't lost this many games... That these players we are trying to bring in... They would love to play for Ron.
Pohlad: If we were winning games the past three years... would we be looking for new players?
Ryan: No... We wouldn't be.
Pohlad: Ok... the recommendation is stay with Ron for another year because he hasn't lost the clubhouse.
Ryan: Two Years.
The Twins announced yesterday that Ron Gardenhire will be returning to manage the club for two more years. Not only will Gardenhire return but the entire coaching staff has been retained as the team took the first steps to prepare for 2014.
Here's what I think about that: I was ready for a change and ready to be patient at the same time. I can be wishy washy like that.
The Twins need change but the needed change doesn't stop at the water's edge of simply swapping managers. I do not believe that taking the same approach with a new person making out the lineup card will make things better. Changing manager is one of ten things that can be done to change. Changing 9 of them while keeping the manager can still work but damn it... You better start work on changing as many of those 9 other things if you have decided against changing #1 on the list.
I don't care if the Twins lost 96 games. I don't care if they lost 110 games or 80 games. The margins are very small in the game of baseball and the difference between losing 80 games and 96 games is 16 wins over a 162 game schedule. One more win every ten games and you are a .500 team.
I'm not going to get lost in the loss total... I'm going to say it very simply... It was how they lost. When I look back at the year that was. The Twins had very little power and they had very little speed. In addition to the combination of no power and no speed... They struck out at near record levels by averaging 8.8 strikeouts a game. Now... You can average 8 strikeouts a game if you have some power and The Twins didn't. If you don't have power... you will need some speed. If you don't have power or speed and you strikeout a bunch... You better have pitching. And... The Twins don't have pitching either... It should be clear to most anyone that a manager can't win with all of that working against him.
So it's clearly not Gardenhire's fault. I do believe that with all my heart. So why am I in the time for a new manager camp?
I feel that way because the team needs massive change and the tide of that change should sweep players and coaches out the door. Send a message that this culture of losing is not without personal cost. Send a message that you are serious about winning ball games.
The Twins were supposed to be a power team. They traded speed guys Span and Revere in the off season and put the power eggs in one basket. Morneau, Willingham, Doumit, Plouffe and Parmelee are all guys with the potential to hit 20 home runs and it didn't happen. They all regressed and Brian Dozier ended up leading the team in home runs.
I don't have the answer but you have to be suspicious about what is going on when you have a team wide regression like that. Is it bad evaluation? Is it a bad culture? Was it just coincedence? We can see that the talent was bad this year... I just don't know why it was bad this year when you compare individual performances to past individual performances.
Clearly, Ownership, Terry Ryan and Dave St. Peter have just stated that it wasn't Ron Gardenhire's fault by giving him a two year contract. It wasn't his fault but something has to happen to change the losing culture. Yesterday was the first move and it was a non move... Let's see what moves #2 through #10 are.