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Article:Check"Marks" 12/17/2008

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Topic #1: In a Star Tribune article this morning, Twins beat writer Joe Christensen wrote comments from Twins GM Bill Smith about numerous topics. Included in this article was about how the Twins don’t think Ty Wigginton is worth Casey Blake money, the Twins aren’t trading Delmon Young just yet and they feel that they will be improved with the additions of Michael Cuddyer back from injury and an older Carlos Gomez and Alexi Casilla. The more I thought about it, the more I realized he might be right. The only team that looks on paper to have improved this off-season in the AL Central is the Indians. They signed Kerry Wood to be their closer and have Travis Hafner returning from injury. The White Sox traded away Nick Swisher, don’t want Orlando Cabrera back and also let Joe Crede walk. There are also rumors that they may trade away Jermaine Dye, taking away much power from their lineup. The Tigers could still be potent with Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander and many others, but their bullpen questions and their early signing of Adam Everett are a big concern. The Royals are the Royals, and until they show me something, you can’t even consider them. I know that it is a long season and that anything can happen (players can have either good or bad seasons), but the Twins finished 6.5 games (7.0 if you forget the 163rd game) ahead of the Indians. That being said, the Indians would need to jump the Twins by that many games plus however many more the Twins win with their ‘experience’. I’m not saying anything, or making any bold predictions, but the Twins could be sitting nicely.

Topic #2: Pro Bowl selections were made yesterday. Of course the Pro Bowl doesn’t really matter, but my Vikings got 5 players in, including first timer Antoine Winfield. Like always there were many snubs (John Abraham, DeAngelo Williams, Phillip Rivers), so why not take a page out of the MLB All-Star Game and expand the rosters. What would it hurt to have more than 3 DE on the team, or have a couple extra OT? The players are mostly there for the free trip to Hawaii. The way it is set up you can’t even have a 5-wide set, which would seem pretty fun for an All-Star Game. One funny note, I think the NFL Network televises some skills competitions, and one of them involves kickers. The NFC somehow got stuck with John Carney as their kicker, he has yet to attempt a FG over 50-yards. I think the AFC will win that competition.

Topic #3: Two Los Angeles teams are making big news in baseball. The Angels have shown interest in Manny Ramirez, which would give them an outfield of Hunter, Ramirez and Guerrero. That would be potent. The Dogders former SS Rafael Furcal, reportedly had a “gentlemen’s agreement” with the Braves to become their 2B, but they continued negotiating with the Dodgers. Interesting… Furcal will end up with the Braves and Manny will end up with the Yankees.

Topic #4: Kevin McHale finally said something that I agree with this past week. He stated how he wasn’t going to change his line-up to combat the other team. Craig Smith is his PF and that doesn’t matter if they’re facing a 7’0 PF named Pau Gasol. This however really shows how bad the Wolves are. They didn’t budge and still got blown out. I give him credit for sticking with players he believes in, but you don’t have to play him for 48 minutes. Or maybe have Al Jefferson guard him.

Topic #5: Check out this blog: http://awfulanouncing.blogspot.com. It has your NFL announcing maps. Interesting that NFL Network’s Saturday Night Coverage has Deion Sanders and Marshall Faulk in the booth, I am not sure if that is a change from last year. Deion loves to talk…so watch out. Here in Minnesota we get a 12 PM Pittsburgh at Tennessee with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, 12 PM Arizona at New England with Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa and then of course Vikings v. Falcons with Dick Stockton, Brian Baldinger and Laura Okmin.


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