Archive for the ‘sports’ Category

ImageRegarding television, my favorite thing in the world is watching the Vikings.  After that, it’s the NFL draft.  I had every intention to do an NFL mock draft for my blog.  However, life is busy and I haven’t had time.  But, more than that, this might be the worst year to do a mock draft.  From the reports I hear, there is going to be a ton of activity in this draft with teams trading up and trading down.  So, a few trades here and there will blow up even the best of mock drafts.

So, I am just going to focus on who I believe the Vikings should take.  The Vikings have the 23rd overall pick and the 25th overall pick (from the Percy Harvin trade).  Having two first round picks allows the Vikings the flexibility to move up, if they want to.  And since this draft is deep and without a large number of players that clearly stand out, the cost to move up is probably going to be much cheaper than previous years.  So, if there is a player they identify as a must get, this is the year to move up.

Image

Tavon Austin

There are two players that will be gone by 23 and I would consider moving up to draft.  Tavon Austin, a WR from West Virgina.  He would basically be your Percy Harvin replacement and plays a similar style.

Image

Star Lotulelei

The other player I would trade up for is Star Lotulelei, a DT from Utah.  Star is a player once considered a top 5 pick, but has fallen a bit because of some issues with his heart.  Although, he will still be picked well before the Vikings pick.  So, if you want him and need a DT, which the Vikings do, you have to trade up.

Vikings GM, Rick Spielman is known for making moves on draft day.  So, it would not surprise me to see the Vikings move up in this draft.  What would surprise me is if they decide to move back in order to acquire more draft picks.  While the Vikings have many needs, I don’t think they need to add additional picks.  They have 11 picks already:

Round 1, Pick 23, No. 23 Overall

Round 1, Pick 25, No. 25 Overall (from Seattle Seahawks)

Round 2, Pick 20, No. 52 Overall

Round 3, Pick 21, No. 83 Overall

Round 4, Pick 5, No. 102 Overall (from Detroit Lions)

Round 4, Pick 23, No. 120 Overall

Round 5, Pick 22, No. 155 Overall

Round 6, Pick 21, No. 189 Overall

Round 7, Pick 7, No. 213 Overall (from Arizona Cardinals)

Round 7, Pick 8, No. 214 Overall (from Seattle Seahawks)

Round 7, Pick 23, No. 229 Overall

Just standing pat with the picks they have will ensure them five of the top 100 players available.  You should be able to fill most of your needs with those five picks.  In fact, if it were me…I might parlay some of the extra picks and move up in the 2nd round.

Image

DJ Hayden

Here is what I think the Vikings will do in the first round.  I believe they pick defense with the first two picks.  They have a huge need for a corner back since Winfield signed with Seattle.  They also don’t have a MLB, unless they look into signing Urlacher after the draft.  They also need a DT to play along side of Kevin Williams.  So, with pick number 23 I think the Vikings will pick CB DJ Hayden from Houston.  He’s a tough corner that can play the slot and is a good tackler.  Something Winfield was great at.  In addition, he also ran a 4.3 in the 40 at his pro day.  There is also an injury factor to consider, but I believe he’s answered those questions.  He actually tore the inferior vena cava (and almost died) and it cost him the rest of this season.  He fits a need for the Vikings, but is also a very good football player.

Image

Manti Te’o

With the 25th overall pick the Vikings select the most controversial player in this years draft.  MLB, from Notre Dame, Manti Te’o.  He’s only controversial because he had a fake girlfriend that died.  He’s guilty of be naïve for sure, but that doesn’t make him a bad person.  And that sure as hell doesn’t take away from his four years of excellence at Notre Dame.  Sure, he played poorly in the National Championship game.  But, his body of work shows a MLB that has excellent instincts and a nose for the ball.

There are my picks for round one: DJ Hayden and Manti Te’o.  I believe the Vikings address another glaring weakness in round two.  I think we see them draft a WR in round two and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them trade up even higher in round two to do it.  Perhaps a WR like Robert Woods from USC.  I also believe the Vikings are very interested in LSU defensive back/kick return Tyrone Mathieu, also known as the Honey Badger.

Will I be right?  Probably not.  But we will find out tomorrow night when the first round is conducted.

Here is an update to my changing shades post about the Minnesota Vikings new uniforms.  I have come across what is believed to be leaked pictures of the actual uniforms to be unveiled Thursday at the Vikings Draft party.

I can not say, with 100% certainty that this photo is legit; however, Kevin Seifert tweeted the photo.  Kevin is an NFC North blogger for ESPN and a former beat writer for the Vikings with the Star Tribune.  So, he is well connected.

Here is the tweet from Seifert with a picture of what he believes are the new Vikings uniforms:

The NFL draft is fast approaching.  It starts on April 25 and goes through the 27th.  However, I am blogging about the MLB First Player Entry Draft.  It’s not till June, but I thought I would look into a few players that may be there when the Twins pick.

Image

Byron Buxton

The Twins pick 4th overall, which is a bonus for having a terrible season.  They were actually worse the year before and picked 2nd overall and landed the best player in the draft, Byron Buxton.  The Twins minor league system is loaded with high upside outfielders; however, that didn’t stop them from drafting Buxton…and it shouldn’t have.

Buxton is currently playing for Low Class A Cedar Rapids Kernals and is hitting .500 with 2 doubles, 1 triple, 2 homers and 2 stolen bases.  Buxton possess true 5-tool abilities and I anticipate a fast rise thru the minor league system.

It’s also fairly well known the Twins lack the high level starting pitching in the minors.  However, they have done a lot to address that in last years draft (JO Berrios – I love this kid) and trades of MLB OF’s Denard Span for Alex Meyer and Ben Revere for Trevor May.  I think conventional wisdom would say the Twins should look at drafting the best available pitcher with the 4th overall pick.  However, I don’t agree.

Image

Clint Frazier

I believe in best player available at all times.  In this case, the best player in the draft this year is Clint Frazier.  A right-handed hitting high school outfielder from Loganville, GA.  Clint hit 24 homers last season in 114 at bats.  He’s built very similar to LA Angels OF Mike Trout and has the same tools, across the board, as Trout.  That’s not to say he will become Trout 2.0.  But the skills and tools are there.  In fact, his hand speed is about as fast as I have ever seen and he generates a ton of power.

Image

Austin Meadows

The next best player in the draft, again this is my opinion, is a high school rival of Frazier and that is Austin Meadows.  Austin is a left-handed hitting OF that is taller more rangy than Frazier.  A lot of scouts have Meadows ahead of Frazier.  Probably because his combination of size (6’3” and over 200 pounds) and speed.  He gets compared to Josh Hamilton quite often.  Hopefully not because he’s a drug addict and/or alcoholic.

Image

Mark Appel

In the third spot.  I have right-handed pitcher from Stanford, Mark Appel.  Appel has been near the top of the draft projections for two years now.  Many called him the best player in the last years draft; however, he dropped to the Pirates at pick 8 because of what he was demanding for a signing bonus.  Appel did not sign and went back to Stanford for his senior year.

Regardless of signing demands, he should go top 5 this year as he remains one of the best amateur players in baseball.  Appel has the ability to dial up his fastball to the mid to upper 90’s.  He also throws an excellent circle change and a tight slider.  He has all the makings as a number one starter in the league and I would envision him seeing little minor league experience once he signs.

Image

Jonathan Gray

My fourth player has major helium.  He’s rising faster than any other prospect.  You have to take pause in these players and really study them.  Jonathan Gray, right-handed pitcher from the Oklahoma Sooners.  He’s got a large build.  He’s 6’5” and 245 pounds with a frame to match Roger Clemens and he can apparently bring it like Clemens as well.  Over the years, his velocity has increased…over and over.  He now is topping out at over 100 miles per hour and sits between 96-98 consistently.  He also has a plus-plus Slider/Curve that he uses a lot because it’s so good.  As it stands right now, I would have him ranked 4th with a chance to climb closer to the top.

So, to recap my top four players:

  1. Clint Frazier
  2. Austin Meadows
  3. Mark Appel
  4. Jonathan Gray

Here is the draft order for the first four picks, with my first mock draft

  1. Houston Astros: Jonathan Gray – last year the Astros passed on Appel, a Houston native, for Puerto Rican Short Stop, Carlos Correa.  I don’t believe they pass on a high upside arm again.  However, Appel’s “advisor” (Boras) will continue to scare them away.  Gray is my guess for the number one overall pick
  2. Chicago Cubs: Mark Appel – Theo Epstein, the President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs, isn’t afraid of dealing with Boras.  He did so with several player when he was the GM for the Red Sox.  The Cubs will jump at the chance to get a future Ace.
  3. Colorado Rockies: Austin Meadows – I believe the Rockies pick Meadows with the envision of a Josh Hamilton clone mashing in the thin Rocky Mountain air.
  4. Minnesota Twins: Clint Frazier – The Twins draft another high school OF and a player I believe is the best in the draft with the most upside.

As you see, my mock is the exact opposite order of how I rank the top four players.  Part of that has to do with the makeup of the other teams and what I believe their needs and tendencies are.  And, good starting pitching is a premium in baseball.

There are a few other players that could slip into the top four, such as: Sean Manaea (left-handed pitcher), Ryne Stanek (right-handed pitcher) and Kris Bryant (3rd baseman).  But as of now, and it’s still early, these are the four top players available in the MLB draft.

The news is typically so depressing: Murders, crime, North Korea, Iran and Lindsay Lohan.  Often, you can turn to sports to find something inspiring.  Whether it’s the story of the Louisville basketball player (Kevin Ware) that broke his leg and how his community and team…and the world, stood by him and cheered his team to a National Championship.  Or little Jack Hoffman and the Nebraska Corn Huskers.  If you haven’t seen the video, or story, please take a moment to watch and read.  Very inspirational.

The following was taken from ESPN and the article can be found here:

On April 22, 2011, Andy Hoffman’s healthy 5-year-old son suffered a massive seizure that lasted nearly 30 minutes. Jack Hoffman nearly died of respiratory failure.

Then doctors delivered Andy Hoffman and his wife, Brianna, a grim diagnosis: Their son had a golf-ball sized malignant tumor near the stem of his brain. On May 20, 2011, Jack underwent brain surgery, but surgeons were unable to extract much of the tumor because of its location on his brain.

Over the next several months, Jack suffered as many as a dozen seizures a day, and medicine was doing very little to control them. Doctors told Andy his son needed a second surgery to remove the rest of the tumor, but the procedure was so risky there was a chance Jack wouldn’t survive.

[+] EnlargeJack Hoffman

Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Media RelationsWearing the number of his favorite player, Rex Burkhead, the Nebraska staff drew up a play for 7-year-old Jack Hoffman.

“They said your son might not wake up,” Andy said. “After several weeks of prayer, we decided to go for it.”

Before Jack underwent the second surgery, he and his father compiled a bucket list of things he wanted to do, in case the surgery wasn’t a success. High on the list was Jack meeting his hero, then-Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead. The Hoffmans live in Atkinson, Neb., and Andy’s brother, Mike, was a walk-on nose guard on Cornhuskers teams that won three national championships during the 1990s.

Several weeks before Jack’s second surgery, the Hoffmans drove more than three hours to Lincoln, Neb., where they had lunch with Burkhead and took a tour of Memorial Stadium. Burkhead promised he would stay in touch.

Miraculously, Jack survived a second brain surgery on Oct. 10, 2011. Surgeons at Boston Children’s Hospital were able to extract 95 percent of the tumor, and he hasn’t suffered another seizure since the procedure. Now, Jack is nearing the end of a 60-week regimen of chemotherapy, and an MRI last week revealed the chemo has dramatically shrunk what’s left of the tumor.

Burkhead, who finished his college career with the Cornhuskers last season, has been Jack’s biggest fan during his fight. And there was no bigger fan at Nebraska’s spring game Saturday than Burkhead, who hopes to be selected in April’s NFL draft.

On Friday, as Nebraska’s coaches pondered how to spice up their annual spring game, wide receivers coach Rich Fisher suggested getting a fan involved or even a child with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“How about Jack?” Cornhuskers coach Bo Pelini asked.

Because of his relationship with Burkhead, Jack has become an integral part of the Nebraska program over the past two years. Burkhead and his teammates wear “Team Jack — Pray” bracelets and visit him regularly. Last year, Burkhead started a Nebraska chapter of Uplifting Athletes, a nonprofit organization that uses college football players to raise awareness for rare diseases, and helped raise more than $300,000 for pediatric brain tumor research.



Sometimes our kids feel like, ‘Wow! Football is tough and it’s difficult.’ Football is hard. But when you compare it to what a 7-year-old like Jack is going through, it pales in comparison.

 — Nebraska coach Bo Pelini

On Sept. 29, Jack walked through the tunnel with Nebraska’s players before their 30-27 victory over Wisconsin in their Big Ten opener. Before they left the tunnel, Burkhead hoisted Jack to slap a lucky horseshoe, a Cornhuskers tradition. Another boy, 6-year-old Isaiah Casillas of McCook, Neb., joined them on the pregame walk. Tragically, Casillas died of complications from a brain tumor on Dec. 2.

“Jack has taught me a lot about life,” Burkhead said. “He’s put my life in perspective. To see Jack battle, it’s something I never had to go through when I was a kid. But he’s still living life and having fun and laughing. Just seeing that is motivation for me. If there’s anything in my life that I think is hard, I take a second look at it now.”

Andy already was planning to attend Nebraska’s spring game with his son. Around 9 p.m. ET Friday, director of football operations Jeff Jamrog called with a special request. Jamrog told Andy that the coaches wanted Jack to suit up and play a down. The icing on the cake: The Cornhuskers would make sure he scored a touchdown.

Jack was already in bed, so his father didn’t break the news until Saturday morning. On Friday night, Andy scrambled to put together a Nebraska uniform for his son. Jack has never played organized football, but he has a red No. 22 jersey, which the Hoffmans purchased only minutes before they met Burkhead for the first time. Burkhead’s autograph is on the back of the jersey. Andy found a pair of his brother’s old Nebraska practice pants in a storage closet, and Jack had a plastic Nebraska helmet and shoulder pads he’d received for Christmas a couple of years ago.

“It was a makeshift uniform,” Andy said. “When he woke up Saturday morning, I told him, ‘Jack, let me tell you about this phone call I received last night.’ He said, ‘Oh, that would be cool.’ I don’t think he fathomed what would happen until the drive down.”

When the Hoffmans arrived at Memorial Stadium, they were summoned to a players pregame meeting. During the meeting, Pelini reintroduced Jack to his team.

“This kid is the toughest kid in Nebraska,” Pelini told his players. “Today, he’s going to fight with you.”

[+] EnlargeJack Hoffman

Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Media RelationsOnce Hoffman got moving, he was off to the races with quarterback Taylor Martinez in tow.

Nebraska’s players erupted.

During the first half, Jack stood on the sideline with his father in street clothes. During the third quarter, a handful of Nebraska players huddled around Jack while he changed into his football uniform, which he hid in a backpack.

Pelini wasn’t sure when he was going to put Jack into the game.

“I told the coaches to ask his dad how far he could run,” Pelini said. “Did we need to get the ball to the 10-yard line or 20-yard line? His dad said it didn’t matter if it was 90 yards.”

When the Red team took possession with less than eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Pelini decided it was the right time to put Jack into the game. Before Jack took the field, he huddled with star quarterback Taylor Martinez and a graduate assistant. They showed Jack the play he was going to run.

“Taylor drew a picture for Jack on a marker board so he could see where he was supposed to run,” Andy said. “I think that’s where the nerves kicked in. I think it went from excitement to a deer-in-the-headlights look.”

As Jack prepared for his moment of glory, his dad offered him a few words of advice.

“Don’t fumble, don’t fall down and don’t run out of bounds,” Andy told him.

And then Andy turned to Martinez.

“Hey, he might run the wrong way,” Andy said. “Just steer him in the right direction if he does.”

On second-and-10 from the Red 31, Jack lined up in the backfield. Martinez was in the shotgun, with Jack lined up to his left and fullback C.J. Zimmerer on his right. Martinez took the snap and handed the ball to Jack, who ran to the left — the wrong way — before Martinez pointed him back to the right. Jack sprinted around the right end 69 yards for a touchdown.

By the time Jack crossed the goal line, both sidelines emptied to celebrate with him in the end zone. With a crowd of 60,714 cheering, the Cornhuskers hoisted Jack on their shoulders.

[+] EnlargeJack Hoffman

Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Media Relations Hoffman ran it 69 yards into the end zone to the delight of the entire stadium.

“It was all unscripted, other than us letting him score a touchdown,” Pelini said. “Our kids running into the end zone, I never told them to do that. When I saw both sidelines empty and saw them celebrating with him, that was special. Our kids have been around this young man and have such a tremendous amount of respect for him and love him. He doesn’t say much, but he’s an intense kid. Obviously, he’s been through so much.”

As Jack was running for the end zone, Andy stood on the sideline and couldn’t even take photos with his camera because he was so overcome with emotion.

“It was just such a rush,” Andy said. “I was proud for a lot of reasons. I was so proud of how he did. He didn’t fumble the ball. He ran the right way. I was so proud he didn’t let Coach Pelini down. I lost it.”

Pelini said the best part was Burkhead was back on campus to witness Jack’s run.

“It made it perfect,” Pelini said. “You wouldn’t want to do it when Rex wasn’t around because he’s been such a part of his life.”

Said Burkhead: “It was awesome. It’s something you can’t put into words as far as how emotional it was. I was a fan of him. It was great seeing him get to enjoy the Husker experience. As a boy growing up in Nebraska, that’s what you dream to do.”

More than anything else, Andy is thankful his son’s time in the spotlight has raised awareness for pediatric brain tumor research.

“This wasn’t a [public relations] stunt,” Andy said. “They love Jack and they’ve given him the red carpet. We just can’t say enough for what Coach Pelini and Rex have done for Jack and our family.”

Pelini is thankful Jack has taught his players lessons that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

“It’s what we try to teach them every day: that there’s a much bigger picture out there other than football,” Pelini said. “There just is. Sometimes, that gets lost with everything that goes into college football. There’s so much pressure and so much at stake. Sometimes our kids feel like, ‘Wow! Football is tough and it’s difficult.’ Football is hard. But when you compare it to what a 7-year-old like Jack is going through, it pales in comparison. They should look up to the heavens every day and be thankful.”

Image

Old and New Norseman

The Minnesota Vikings are getting a facelift.  They have updated their Norseman logo to give him a more natural and bold look.  I really like the changes to the Norseman.  At first, I was against messing with him, but the changes are subtle and add more depth and more realism.

In addition, they are changing the entire uniform.  From the pants to the helmets.  They plan on unveiling the new look on Thursday April 25 and at the NFL draft party.  However, they are releasing hints here and there.  I will show you a couple of the hints.

Image

New shade of purple

vikingjerseyyellow

Yellow Collar

As you can see, the purple (on the left) is a far darker shade of purple.  In addition, it appears they ditched those ugly yellow collars (on the right) Nike put on them.  I could not stand this jersey.  The yellow collars were hideous.  Dang, I feel like Joan Rivers.

Image

Yellow to Gold?

I have to assume the photo above shows the top front of the jersey.  It appears they are ditching the yellow for more of a gold look.  I haven’t seen anything regarding the font being used, nor have I see what the numbers might look like.  However, I really hope they ditch the yellow/gold trim around the numbers.  Deep purple with white numbers is what I want to see.

The helmet is what I am waiting to see mostly.  I really hope they go with a deep purple matte finish.  Similar to what a lot of colleges go to.  I prefer that appearance to the shiny look.  To me, the matte finish is far more intimidating.

Here is a youtube video of Jared Allen getting his first look at the new Viking Helmet and they are “grossly awesome”.

Pitino to coach Gophers

Posted: April 3, 2013 in sports
Tags: , , ,
Image

Rich Pitino

Richard Pitino, Rick’s son, that is.  Rich was the Head Basketball coach for Florida International and helped them, in his only season, to their first winning record in 13 years.  He did this, despite only having three players on scholarship.  Rich has served as an assistant coach with his father at Louisville and at Florida and Providence.

MN Gophers AD Norwood Teague went out looking for a young, up and comer and it appears he has found his guy.  Personally, I like the hire.  My wish list included Shaka Smart and Flip Saunders; however, I believe having the Pitino name might add a lot of excitement to an otherwise dull Gopher basketball program.  We will see if he is anything like his father, one of the best coaches of my generation.

Image

TSN Team Waiting to talk trades……

The NHL trade deadline is 2 PM CT today.  I don’t expect a lot of moves today since there were so many yesterday and the days before.  The big names that moved already are: Ryane Clowe, Jaromir Jagr, Derek Roy, Jarome Iginla, Doug Murray, Jay Bouwmeester and some other minor moves.

The Wild were players in trying to get Clowe.  A couple of factors led to him being traded to the Rangers.  Number 1, he apparently wanted to go to a east coast team and B.) the cost of trading for him and extending his contract was too much.  Prior to the season, he was going to be my number 1 target during FA signing this summer.  But, that appears out of the question now.

I hope Chuck Fletcher (Wild GM) can move Pierre-Marc Bouchard.  Right now, he’s playing well but he’s on his last year of his contract and he likely won’t be re-signed by the Wild.  So, they should get something in return for him now; especially when his value is so high. And, he’s a wuss.

Losing PMB, during a playoff push, might sound like something a winning team shouldn’t do; however, I would argue Jason Zucker would be recalled and would play just as well, if not better.  In fact, I credit Zucker will helping turn the Wild season around when he was first brought up.  He turned the second line into a factor and contributed to the success of Seto and Cullen.  If he didn’t get illegally checked and hurt, as a result, Zucker would more than likely still be on the Wild team and probably still a productive member of the second line.  Zucker is a fast skater that isn’t afraid to shoot the puck.  Something PMB lacks.

Image

Jason Pominville

Michael Russo, the best beat writer in town for any sport, is reporting that the Wild is in talks with Buffalo for their Captain, Jason Pominville, who is apparently on the trading block.  Pominville would be a great addition and he has a year left on his contract.  So, he isn’t a “rental player”.  Although, I would think the assets to obtain him would be plenty, for that reason.  Especially because there are probably a lot of teams interested.

Either way, we will find out in less than two hours.  Go WILD!

UPDATE (12:45 PM)

If you don’t want to be traded from your team…for God’s sake, DON’T have a baby!

UPDATE (1:15 PM)

According to Russo, the Wild are on the verge of a “big trade” as one of their young goalies seem to be part of the package.  He is speculating that Matt Hackett would be leaving via trade.  He adds:

More to come as this evolves, but I do still know the Wild is heavily going after Buffalo’s Jason Pominville.

UPDATE (1:45)

The Wild has made a trade to acquire Buffalo Sabre’s RW Jason Pominville, highlighted above.  This is a huge addition to the team.  I haven’t heard exactly what the Wild had to give up…but the rumors include both Matt Hackett and Johan Larsson, two highly rated prospects and possibly additional draft picks.  Here is a tweet from Russo that just came across the wire after I typed this update…