Some People's Kids: September 2007

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Is this a Great Game or What?

After months and months of waiting, we have finally come back to the start of the best time of the year for sports fans. Its a period of time every year starting from the start of Football season to the end of football season, culminating with the Super Bowl in early February. During this wonderful time, we see the start of football season, both college and pro, the start of basketball season, both college and pro, and the end of a 7 month long baseball season. Baseball's postseason is by far the best of all the four major sports. Every pitch means so much, coaching really shows up, and runs are at a premium. Not to mention that stadiums get uber crazy. Usually there are a few meaningful games come the last weekend of the regular season, but for the most part, the playoff spots are already filled or just a mere formality. Again, I emphasize, usually.

This year.... not so much. Coming into the last weekend, there were about 9 teams still alive for playoff spots, mostly all of them residing in the National League. I've never really been a baseball buff in the past, mainly because I would get bored during the doldrums of summer, when it seems that the season will never end. Again, this year was different. I've become more of a fan now than ever before. I never thought in a million years, I would be glued to the TV, watching a Padres/Brewers game on ESPN, hanging on every at bat. The end of this season has been the by far the craziest I've ever seen. Let me take a moment and try to break it down the best I can from my perspective. This season has seen everything. From a complete and utterly unfathomable collapse, to some teams left for dead showing everyone that they are very much alive.

In an earlier post, I said "That thud you hear is Rick Ankiel." I must apologize. I was very wrong on that one. That thud you hear is the New York Mets. If you realize what has happened to this team in the last month, you have to stand in amazement. Leading the NL East by a seemingly insurmountable 7 games in mid September, the Mets slowly dribbled it down their leg. With every loss to teams that had nothing to play for, the Mets showed us new ways to lose baseball games. They built 5+ run leads, only to have a Guillermo Mota led bullpen blow up in front of their eyes. They lost to teams that were eliminated from playoff contention in spring training. They had people who were brought in to prevent these kind of things from happening, namely Billy Wagner, blow lead after lead in uncharacteristic fashion after being solid all year. As much as I like this team and the players on it, I couldn't help but smile at the magnitude of that collapse. With the loss on the last day of season to the Florida Marlins, in which stallwart Tom Glavine gave up 7 earned runs in 1/3 of an inning, the boys from Flushing completed their fall and lost the division to their rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies. Twins fans know this situation all too well. This sounds like the Detroit Tigers team losing a 13 game lead last year to the benefit of our favorite club. The only difference was, those Tigers still made the playoffs, these Mets will not.

The Phillies, along with the Colorado Rockies, were the aforementioned teams left for dead earlier this season. These two clubs, although alot alike, went about their comebacks in different ways. The Phils kept coming all year. They weathered many key injuries and somehow kept their head above water, until their steady pace caught up with the tanking Mets. They are one of the most exciting teams to watch in the league. From the top of the order to the bottom, these Phils have people that will make you sit on the edge of your seat every time they step to the plate. Whether its Jimmy Rollins leading off with his unique combination of speed and power, or Ryan Howard abusing baseballs into the upper deck on a regular basis, these Phils always keep things interesting. Not to mention that Chase Utley may be one of the purest hitters that there is in the league. This team has style, and swagger, and damn, are they easy to like...

The Rockies however, chose a different route to a possible postseason appearance. They just chose to win almost every game since mid September. The Rockies took 13 of their last 14 games including a franchise-record 11 straight, finishing like gang busters to force a one-game playoff for the NL wild card with the (yawn) San Diego Padres. These aren't your cool older brother's Colorado Rockies either. These Rockies do it with both hitting AND pitching. With players that most people have never heard of, they have surprised everyone by winning in the rarefied air of Colorado. Although, you may have no clue who these players are yet, it won't be long until you do. Led not the Killer "B"s, of Houston Astros fame, but the Killer "H"s of Todd Helton, Brad Hawpe, and the possible MVP of the league Matt Holliday, these Rockies can really do damage to any pitching staff. They all can hit for average. They all can hit for power. Its really, really scary actually.

The best thing about these teams, and the reason that you can feel really good rooting for them, is that they were both built through the Minor Leagues, not some flash in the pan, big free agent signing. No one would come to Colorado to pitch, causing them to vastly overpay for very sub par pitchers like Denny Naegle and Mike Hampton. When that didn't work, they just developed their own pitchers. No one wanted to pitch in Philly either, so they developed one of the best young left handers in the league in Cole Hamels. Even their Murderer's Row lineups were built through the Minor Leagues, proving to Twins fans that maybe there is hope after all.

The greatest thing of all though, is that if the Rockies win their one game playoff on Monday, these two teams will play each other in a first round best-of-five series. I'm already smiling about that prospect.

Baseball's postseason this year has so many stories to watch. So many players to watch. With every new series, there will be more intriguing things to watch then the series before it. You need to tune in. Trust me, you won't regret it.

I'd like you to meet my new love. Major League Baseball.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bring in the Horns

From now on I will blame any and every Vikings loss on this song. No matter if they deserved to lose or not.

I bet Troy Hudson had something to do with this.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

How to Save a Life... and Then Kill a Career

Okay, that may be a bit over the top. Okay, so its a lot over the top.

Its almost never heard of. Babe Ruth was the only one who did it sucessfully. Go from Pitcher to Position Player. The story itself is just plain amazing. Major League Baseball's best pitching prospect. The world at his finger tips. Then suddenly, to the bewilderment of everyone, he loses it. And not only does he lose it, but he loses it in the playoffs, on national television, when his Cardinal teammates are counting on him the most. In one brutal series of events, he goes from King to Goat, including a major league record for wild pitches in one inning with 5. And these pitches aren't just wild, they would make Yao Ming duck for cover. Then he seemingly falls off the face of the earth, only to emerge again with one main difference, hes holding a bat instead of holding a ball. Hes become an outfielder, and a damn good one at that. He makes his way back through the Cardinals farm system, and because of a couple unfortunate injuries, lands on the big stage once again. That in itself has got to be the story of the year. But it gets better. First game back, he hits a home run in front of a ruckus home crowd. Now thats the stuff that dreams are made of.

Unless you have been living in a cave for the past 3 months, you know this is the story of Rick Ankiel, The St. Louis Cardinals newest right fielder. This guy has all the tools. A powerful bat. A rocket arm(he was a pitcher, for shit's sake). He can probably run well. And he could probably name all the capitol cities of the US. This guy is that good. Some people went so far as to call him, "The Natural", referencing the popular 1984 Robert Redford movie. And who could argue? Through his first 22 games in the Big Leagues(the 2nd time), Ankiel had been abusing opposing pitchers to the tune of a .358 average, 9 Home runs, 29 RBI, and 22 Runs. That is the definition of abuse. Not to mention that he had provided the Cardinals with the "pep" in their step that they had so desperately needed to propel them back into the race in the National League Central.


But, as we've learned before, all good things must come to an end. Some people cant just leave well enough alone. There will always be people out there, for whatever reason, that want to drudge up old things and try to bring people down. Especially with a story like this. I'm sure people were lining up from all over the country to rain on this parade. Well, someone finally did. The story broke sometime early last week. Sometime before 2005, when the league banned the drug, Ankiel had taken HGH, human growth hormone. Now, while not against the rules at the time, MLB can now suspend you based on evidence that you took it. Pretty weak rule if you ask me, but its how it is. Within the span of a couple days, this was all over the news. With names being thrown out left and right, it seemed that everybody who ever picked up a bat had cheated. The news reporters lined up to grill Ankiel with questions about his past. And unlike, Mark Mcgwire, he was here to talk about the past. Whether he had something to hide, or whether he was just shook up by everyone under the sun now calling him a CHEATER, this controversy has had a serious effect on his play. And its a pretty blatant effect too.

That "THUD" you hear is Rick Ankiel.

Since the day when he sliced and diced the Pirates for 2 Home runs, 7 Rbi, and 4 Runs scored, he has gone 2-22 with no Rbi and two runs scored. He also has 8 strikeouts in that span. Coincidence? I think its pretty damn obvious. Now the best story in baseball this year has become one of its worst. We haven't seen a collapse like this since the statue of Saddam fell. With Ankiel, so to went the Cardinals. From 1/2 game back a week ago, to where they stand now 4 1/2 games back.

Its kind of sad really. When you think about how much negative stuff is out there... Then you find a great feel good story for everyone to sink their teeth into... And boom. No mas. I, for one, am getting really sick of it. Memo to MLB, this steroids witch hunt needs to stop. What are they going to accomplish by digging up dirt from the past? All they would do is hurt their sport. Bring about more negative connotations about the nature of baseball in the Major Leagues. I've got news for ya... The fans, they don't give a shit! Its the media that is bringing down your sport. Baseball has drawn more fans this year than ever before, beating the record set last year, and the year before that. People love baseball. Your sport is great right now. Keep it that way. Yes, plenty of people took steroids in the past. We get it. We also get that people scuffed and vasolined balls. We get that people corked bats. We get that people used HGH. We Just DON'T CARE.
Just hit home runs, steal bases, throw some balls around a bit and Smile and things will be all good.

As for Rick Ankiel, who knows what will become of him.. He obviously has the talent to be a fixture in the league for a long time, but will this pass quietly or have we really seen the beginning of the end? What we do know, thanks to the media, is that he may not be so "Natural" anymore.


Terry Ryan is done, as GM. This is strange. Why now? Why at all? Is he saying? There are so many questions. More later.

In Theaters Tomorrow… Sept. 14th

There are many films releasing this week… too many to talk about. First stricken from the list is Mr. Woodcock… you made one good decision Stifler, stop making films. Second stricken from the list is Across The Universe… a Beatles themed transatlantic love story starring a chick named Evan just doesn’t fly in my world. Third off the list is Moving McAllister… there is a reason Jon Heder films are only getting limited releases lately, and its not Mila Kunis. Fourth off the list is Dragon Wars… Love the concept and all (dragons are freakin’ sweet) but this film just screams shitty. That leaves me with 4 films to talk about.

Eastern Promises looks super good and has a stellar cast, an insanely f-ed up and brilliant director and a script written by an Oscar nominated screenwriter. Viggo Mortensen plays a Russian mobster living in London who is torn between following orders and saving an innocent nurse (Naomi Watts) who has stumbled upon a crime underworld while looking for a child surviving parent. Watts finds out that the mother who was murdered while giving birth was part of a prostitution ring set up by Mortenson’s crime family and a larger brotherhood of eastern European crime families. I know that doesn’t sound original or great but David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortenson came together for A History of Violence and Cronenberg’s other work includes Spider, The Fly and Videodrone. The man spends a lot of time putting together extremely elaborate metaphors for what is so messed up about man.

The Hunting Party is an extremely interesting and mostly true story of a handful of journalists who find the most wanted man in Bosnia after the war had been over for about 4 years… I wish it was as simple as sending a handful of journalists to Pakistan to rout out Bin Laden. Anyway, Richard Gere plays a senior member of the press showing a new guy around Bosnia with Photographer Terrence Howard. The trio takes it upon themselves to hunt down the most dangerous man in the land and in turn he seeks them out thinking they were a CIA hit squad posing as journalists. The film jumps between genres including dark comedy, drama and action. The chick from National Treasure and James Brolin also appear in the film.

In The Valley Of Elah is only out in limited release but I figured I’d mention it because Oscar season is approaching. Paul Haggis wrote a directed the film. Yeah, the same Paul Haggis that was the first ever to write two back-to-back Best picture winners (Million Dollar Baby, Crash). The film is about a father and career officer (Tommy Lee Jones) who is searching for his soldier son who has gone AWOL upon return from Iraq. He enlists the help of a sexy police detective (Charlize Theron) and his wife (Susan Sarandon). We’re 4 for 4 on Oscar winners so far, everybody knows that Oscar likes to stick with the ones he loves. (Unless you’re Marisa Tomei)

The Brave One looks a lot like last weeks Death Sentence, but with Jodie Foster instead of Kevin Bacon. (Foster was in Sommersby with Maury Chaykin, who of course was in that goddamn Where The Truth Lies… seriously who wasn’t in that damn film?) Foster is a radio host who is attacked while with her husband by three bastard-faced bastards. Her husband dies and she is traumatized by the events. She buys a gun in hopes of finding the men that killed her husband. She witnesses the murder of a clerk in a convenience store and kills the man who committed the crime. She continues the vigilante murders and soon enough a cop (Terrence Howard, again) is after the person behind the biggest story in the New York press. Can Jodie Foster kill three Bastard-faced Bastards before Terrence Howard catchers? I say it’s a five-way shootout at the end. You guess which two survive with shoulder wounds.

Honestly, I have no Idea how to draw up the box office after 3:10 To Yuma only made 14 million dollars and it biggest competition will also be its biggest pre-flop Oscar competition. #1 The Hunting Party (not my first choice though) #2 3:10 to Yuma #3 Mr. Woodcock (because too many kids will see a film because the word cock is in the title) #4 Halloween #5 The Brave One (because Jodi Foster has more pull than Viggo Mortenson)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

2-0 (soon to be 3-0)

To be honest I don't know how the Cyclones are going to score on Saturday. This is what they have to look forward to this weekend. Zero first downs, and no positive yards till the middle of the 3rd quarter. This could be interesting.

Out of nowhere The Hawkeye Compulsion up and moved. It looks good so far. P.S. I hate you...

According to the Sporting News the Clones rank 106th in the nation in Offense, with only 13.5 points per game.

Go tell the Des Moines Register what you think ISU's chances are.

Here are some more pictures from last Saturday.


With my past experience with the White Sox, I don't think I could be as happy for another team as I am right now. If you haven't heard the White Sox just extended Ozzie Guillen through 2012. This means we can expect them to fall apart year after year, until at least 2013, which is wonderful. Even though the Twins are DONE this season, life as a Twins fan is good.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

In Theaters Tomorrow… Sept. 7th

Two out of three ain’t bad. The first film is already generating Oscar buzz and will open the floodgates for the Western to come back into fashion. The second film is an absurd and exciting action pic starring a BAMF that does not get the respect that he deserves. The third film out in wide release stars two comic actors whose work I have enjoyed but I’m not so sure that they can carry a film by themselves.

3:10 TO YUMA is a remake of a 1957 film by the same name. This one stars Christian Bale as an Arizona rancher who agrees to transfer a captured outlaw (Russell Crowe) to the train going to Yuma for trial. Guess what time the train arrives. Seriously. Guess. The two characters gain each other’s respect as they ride the trail to get to their train and face many obstacles including Crowe’s gang. Tom Cruise almost killed this film when he pulled out, but things totally get better when Tom Cruise pulls out. Peter Fonda, Ben Foster and Gretchen Mol also have parts in the film.

SHOOT ‘EM UP does not want you get its genre confused. This film looks totally wicked like a mix between CRANK and SIN CITY and SMOKIN’ ACES and anything else that is ultra violent, super fast paced and ridiculous in a good way. Clive Owen (The Bad Ass Mother F*cker previously mention) plays Mr. Smith who may or may not be a hit man but who does become a babysitter/guardian to a child that he has delivered during a gunfight. Yeah, you just read that correctly. This is one of those films that doesn’t offer too much of a plot but throws so much ammunition, car chases and explosions that you forget that films even have plots. I have faith that I won’t notice the plot holes in this film, especially when I’m busy looking at Monica Belluchi. Owen uses carrots to kill people and Paul Giamatti plays the leader of the gang that is trying to kill the child. I’m all for films that explore social issues, develop plots and characters and try to enlighten audiences but sometimes I really dig an action film that goes balls to the wall.

The last film this week looks mentally handicapped, and not in a funny way either. Will Forte (SNL, BEERFEST) Will Arnett (“Arrested Development”, BLADES OF GLORY, LETS GO TO PRISON) and Jenna Fischer (“The Office”) star in THE BROTHERS SOLOMON. The Wills play brothers who were home schooled and therefore socially inept. Their father’s dying wish was to have a grandchild so the brothers set out to get their groove on. Lee Majors, Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig (Both from SNL) also appear in the film. It will not be good.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

I Like-a Da Football

As of yesterday the football season has officially begun and I am excited. Not that I don’t love baseball but its not exactly the most action packed sport ever, it gets pretty boring in the middle of the season and I don’t write about NASCAR, golf or soccer. College football started yesterday and NFL teams just cut their rosters down to 53 in preparation for the season to begin next week.

As everybody already knows by now the Appalachian State Mountaineers shocked the world by ripping Ann Arbor’s heart out and muddying Lloyd Carr’s future even further. I think this kid exemplifies the joy felt across the other 49 states. Now, the Gophers find themselves tied with the Wolverines and more importantly Iowa’s bowl expectations are elevated, even if only a little bit. Neither the Hawks nor the Gophers were on television in Minneapolis but we know that the Hawks failed to score a million points and “Gopher Nation” failed to get it’s first win. Jebus over at the Compulsion broke down the entire Big Ten, and I’m lazy so go read his post. (Did we mention that Ohio State lost DE Lawrence Wilson to a broke leg?)

Appalachian State was the only major upset, but out in California the Golden Bears got revenge over Tennessee in the only game pitting two ranked teams against each other. Desean Jackson returned a punt almost 80 yard for a touchdown. For those of you keeping track that’s the sixth of his college career and a 22% return rate. Virgina Tech won their first game of the season and first since the tragedy that occurred on their campus in late spring. Notre Dame proved that it is over-rated after failing to put up a touchdown against Georgia Tech.

Darren Mcfadden rolled over Troy for 151 yards, one TD running and one TD passing. Mississippi State’s Zach Smith needs some asprin. West Virginia will have defenses scratching their heads all season long; Pat White and Steve Slaton each had four touchdowns (one was a pass from White to Slaton). Colt Brennan threw for 6 touchdowns and 416 yards in the first freaking half! My boy Ray Rice ran for 184 yards and 3 TDs for Rutgers. Tim Tebow had his first start for the national champion Gators and managed to throw for 300 yards and added 4 TDs (one rushing) to the blowout. In Nebraska Marlon Lucky introduced himself to everybody outside of The Big 12 with an astounding 233 yards and three touchdowns.

As for the pros, The Vikings have cut their roster down to 53 and made some interesting cuts in the process. The team decided to go with three fullbacks and three tailbacks and keeping Naufahu Tahi over Artose Pinner and Ciatrick Fason. Second year safety Greg Blue was cut in favor of Mike Doss and Tank Williams. Both players went out with injuries last season while Blue is a hard hitting young guy who probably could have helped on special teams. Cornerback Devonte Edwards was released in favor of Marcus McCauly (good call), Charles Gordon (meh) and Ronyell Whitaker. I feel that Edwards is defiantly a better player than Whitaker.

According to The Daily Norsman the team has picked up TE Garrett Mills from the Pats. The Norsman also said that Tyler Thigpen and DE Khreem Smith were claimed off waivers by the Chiefs while Edwards was picked up by the Giants. Here is the current roster with Mills taking Guard Brian Daniels spot.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

In Theaters Tomorrow… I Mean A Couple Days Ago

This week’s (8/31) offerings at the theater are all really hit or miss. Honestly, I have no clue what is gonna be good and what is gonna be bad. Rob Zombie tries his hand at the HALLOWEEN series with a revision of its origin. Christopher Walken and the co-creators of “Reno: 911” are the only reason I scratch my head about BALLS OF FURY but at the moment I’m leaning towards thinking that it was a bad choice on both of their parts. DEATH SENTENCE is the film that I’m most stoked about this weekend; Kevin Bacon avenges his son by taking on a whole gang single handedly. The last film I’ll talk about, THE NINES, is only out in limited release but looks like an awesome film that will ultimately get lost in the fold. I’ll start with BALLS OF FURY since it came out on Wednesday.

The premise of this film is really, really stupid, but like I said before its got some pretty solid cast members. Some dude by the name of Dan Fogler plays a former ping-pong champ who is recruited by the FBI to infiltrate a sudden death ping-pong tourney. Fogler seems to have just started making bad films and somehow managed the starring role. My favorite Polish-Irish-Vietnamese lady in the world, Maggie Q, plays the sexy pong sage who will help put Fogler back into tip-top pong form. George Lopez plays the recruiting FBI agent. Christopher Walken plays evildoer Feng (he also starred in MOUSEHUNT with Maury Chaykin, who starred in WHERE THE TRUTH LIES with Kevin Bacon). Terry Crews (Everybody hates Chris), Jason Scott Lee (THE JUNGLE BOOK, DRAGON) Masi Oka (Heroes) Patton Oswald and a couple members of the Reno: 911 cast also appear in the film.

I’m always hesitant about a remake of a classic film, but Rob Zombie chose to spin his own story keeping characters and background the same. I was also worried about Zombie’s acid trip style but it seems that he has finally dropped that to focus on the story and character development. This version of the horror classic follows Michael Myers instead of Laurie Strode, though I’ve heard that Scout Taylor-Compton played the Strode character very nicely. Former wrestler Taylor Mane ( Sabertooth in the X-MEN series) plays Myers, Zombie’s hot wife Sherri Moon plays Myers’ mother and Malcolm McDowell plays the doctor who tries to warn authorities of the danger that plagues Haddonfield. McDowell was in MY LIFE SO FAR with Colin Firth who also appeared in THERE THE TRUTH LIES with Kevin Bacon.

Kevin Bacon goes ape-shit crazy in DEATH SENTENCE. Bacon plays a father and executive who snaps after his son is killed in a gang initiation and those responsible for the death are set free. He gets a hold of way too much artillery, does a horrible job shaving his head, teams up with a detective who pledges to help him and then proceeds to blow the hell out of everything in front of him. The film should look awesome and dark as the director of the film is James Wan who wrote and directed SAW. John Goodman plays the big boss man of the gang that Bacon’s character decided to destroy. All people in this film are now directly linked to Kevin Bacon.

THE NINES is a very interesting film that will only be open in limited release. John August (the writer of GO, BIG FISH, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and THE CORPSE BRIDE) wrote and directed this film. The film sounds like it was written in a similar style to GO and stars Ryan Reynolds (yeah, VAN WILDER) in three roles. One is a troubled actor, another a TV producer and the last is a video game designer. These three characters begin to realize that their lives are intertwined and each realizes that he will become a demigod or a “nine”. The film deals with metaphysics and that is ultimately the reason it didn’t get a wider release. I personally feel that the film sounds like something that would have come from the mind of Darrin Aronofsky but someone on IMDB who saw the film at Sundance had this to say, “John August matches Charlie Kaufman as a writer, and parallels Michel Gondry as a director.” Reynolds was in DICK with Deborah Glover who also appeared in WHERE THE TRUTH LIES (WTF?). I have a feeling that I’ll love THE NINES.

It's like Christmas morning

If you're not hyped up yet the following videos should help.

Enjoy. Go Hawks.