The Week That Was

Holy cow was this an eventful week.
- Baseball season started.
- The Final Four and a bunch of complaining about officiating.
- The Mike Rice controversy (though I don’t suppose it’s a controversy when the whole world agrees that the guy should be fired).
- Roger Ebert died.
- Spring football started.
- Terrance Bryant returned to the Storm.
- Yu Darvish missed a no-hitter by one batter.
- I went to a Twins game with two pretty girls.
- The Gophers hired Dick Pitino.

Did I forget anything? I probably did.

We’ll start with baseball.
It’s nice to see the Twins off to a strong start, winning each of their first two series, both against teams that were in the playoffs last year. Especially since last year got off to such a dreadful start. I still see little reason to think this won’t be a fifth-place team, unless of course Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey can continue to churn out quality starts. We can hope, I guess.

I’ve already seen enough of Pedro Florimon, and will reiterate that I’d rather have Jamey Carroll — or even Eduardo Escobar — as the starting shortstop.
And while Aaron Hicks had the game-winning hit Sunday, it’s kind of looking like he’s not ready yet. That’s not a big deal, really — he’s never played above Double-A, and it’s easy to forget that Torii Hunter was sent back to the minors more than once after his initial callup before he finally became an All-Star. Hicks still has a great chance to be a good one, but if he’s still hitting in the .100s in a week or two it might be better for his development to send him to Triple-A.

I made reference to it in a Twins Talk column Friday, but the game I attended Thursday was barely half full. I had good seats — along the third base line in the lower deck, and it only cost $40 total for the three of them through Stub Hub. That’s cheaper than a Stampede game. We had an entire row to ourselves.
And like I said in the column, I’m kind of glad. The Twins brass needs to get the message that they still have to invest in a quality product to earn our money. The front office and coaching staff, or whoever you want to blame, has failed miserably to create momentum from the opening of Target Field, driving this team into the ground far quicker than anyone ever could’ve imagined, and I think it’s to the fans credit that they’re already telling the team that they demand more than a nice stadium (half of which, by the way, the fans are paying for, anyway).

- I’m not sure what more needs to be said about the Mike Rice/Rutgers thing at this point, especially since, like I said, public opinion seemed to be universally in agreement that Rutgers had to fire him.
Are there more Mike Rice’s out there, as many have suggested? Probably to some degree, though I’m not sure how much farther a coach could go than Rice did. As Storm coach Kurtiss Riggs said on his radio show, watching the Rutgers practice tape was almost harder to do than watching the Kevin Ware leg injury replay.
Rice actually seemed pretty contrite in giving his statement on camera, to a degree that I felt at least a little sympathy for him, but still, the guy isn’t even a winning coach to begin with. I try to put myself in the guys shoes to try to understand how you get in that mindset where you do those things and I just can’t. It’s just crazy, and if any other faculty member at a college pulled something like that they’d be in jail.

One thing I’ll say about Rice is this: If you’re a high school or college athlete and you have a coach who does stuff like this, tell on him. Tell your parents, an administrator, a teacher, hell, tell a reporter.
That kind of abuse is not ‘part of being a college athlete’. It doesn’t ‘make you better’. It’s abuse and it’s illegal.

If there’s any good to come from it, besides Rice getting fired, it’s that this is yet another incident that sheds light on the messed up balance of power in college athletics, which Dan Lebatard sums up brilliantly in this piece.

- I like the Pitino hire. I especially like that he told the media that he doesn’t see the Gopher job as a stepping stone job, but as a destination job. I don’t really believe him, but it was nice to hear regardless.

- Terrance Bryant did a nice job in his return. He’s not going to move real well at age 36 — he wasn’t real mobile even before he retired — and he admitted after the game he was anxious to see how his body would respond the day after. But the accuracy and zip on his passes was definitely there, and he’ll command respect in the locker room. Riggs more or less said that Bryant is the starter for the remainder of the season, and that they’ll look for other ways to use Martevious Young when he returns from injury.

- Haven’t made it to a spring practice yet, but obviously there’s lots of intrigue for both USF and Augie football, with the Vikings working in a new coach and the Cougars replacing 25 seniors.
One interesting tidbit to come out of Augie camp, senior-to-be Tanner Foth — who was a Wildcat QB for the Vikings last year, has been moved to defensive end. That means the QB competition will be between junior Justin Heinrich, sophomore Erik Brakke and freshman Trey Heid, at least until the true freshmen report in the fall. I have no idea who to identify as a front-runner.

- The death of Roger Ebert hit me pretty hard, as you may remember a piece I wrote a couple years back about him being one of my favorite writers (which can no longer be found since our old blogs were apparently deleted). I’m not a movie critic and never aspired to be one, but Ebert was still a huge influence on me just because his writing was that good.
There were plenty of tributes to come out this week after his death, so there’s no need for me to go much further.
I’ll just include this quote from him, which reflects an attitude I try to live by.
"What I believe is that all clear-minded people should remain two things throughout their lifetimes: Curious and teachable."
Sadly, too many of us are incurious and uneager to learn new things. Don’t be like that.

- Took the lady friend to see the Evil Dead remake on Saturday. Considering she’s too squeamish to even watch the Walking Dead with me on Sunday nights, this was a pretty significant thing, getting her to agree to attend.
I’m a huge fan of the original Evil Dead trilogy, and was skeptical about a remake, because all the other horror remakes — Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th, etc., are incredibly terrible.
But reviews were strong (sadly didn’t get to read one from Ebert, though), and with Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi on board, it had to be good, right?
It was. It was also probably the most violent, bloody, gory, disgusting movie I’ve ever seen. The only other movie I can think of that would be up there would be either Reanimator or Dead Alive, and Dead Alive was a campy, slapstick horror movie (made by Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame — it’s terrible).

I hope it wasn’t too much for the three pre-teen boys sitting in front of us with their dad, who actually brought them to see this movie.
I went in to Evil Dead prepared for the gore, but not so much for the actual horror. I find very few movies to be actually ‘scary’, but this was. I kind of want to see it again already. Enjoy it at your own risk.

And enjoy the weather today. It’s supposed to get really cold and crappy again later this week. Go away, winter.