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The annual Great Baseball Road Trip is almost upon us. Everything lined up just right for us to somehow keep a tradition alive that has been going every year since 2000 and carve out four days despite having a 4-month-old at home (whom we will miss terribly, mind you).
We’re also out next week for what amounts in part to a “staycation,” so this prelude is a long-winded way of saying don’t expect regular posts here again until Aug. 25 after today. We’ll jump on with some exploits from the road, we imagine, and next week there will probably be things here and there that we can’t resist.
But yes, back to the road trip: We’re hitting Vikings training camp tomorrow morning, then a minor league game in Burlington, Iowa, tomorrow night. Friday is a St. Louis Cardinals game (never been to the new Busch Stadium), Saturday is Quad Cities, Sunday is the Field of Dreams in Iowa and hopefully a little bit of the town ball tournament in Minnesota before returning home. Golf and other shenanigans are also in play. We’ll probably collapse when it’s all over, but in a good way.
Thinking about the road trip and Vikings camp reminded us of a long conversation with regular GBRT attendee Rocket during a past trip. We had a long walk to Wrigley, and to fill the void we debated this question:
What if the Vikings were guaranteed to win the Super Bowl this season?
[You can tell this is fiction already].
But here’s the catch: You couldn’t watch any of their games this year, including the Super Bowl … and they would never win another Super Bowl during your lifetime. If you had this magic potion to make it happen, would you?
This was about three or four years ago, and we’re honestly still torn. We don’t know. It boils down to just how bad you want the curse lifted and what price you would pay to make it happen.
We look forward to your thoughts in the comment. The next time you hear from us, we’ll likely be in Iowa so send good wishes please.
[Fantastic Super Bowl Homeboy shirt designed by local graphic artist Nate Schimelpfenig].
The Vikings are in the midst of one of those great sports dilemmas — the kind where there is no perfect answer, we can talk in circles for hours, and most of it is meaningless [redacted] serving as a pleasant diversion from riots, wars and deadly viruses.
The interesting thing about the Teddy Bridgewater vs. Matt Cassel debate is that for all the dalliances the Vikings have had with QB controversies, we can’t remember one that had quite so many good arguments on both sides — at least when it comes to the question of “who should be the week 1 starter?”
When Christian Ponder was a rookie first-round pick in 2011, he was coming off a lockout shortened offseason. There was no good reason for him to start right away (even if the default alternative was Donovan McNabb). Ponder was the clear starter in 2012. The Vikings went to the playoffs that year, so he was the incumbent in 2013. The job was Brett Favre’s, of course, in 2009 and 2010. The years before that but after Daunte Culpepper were mostly starter-by-default scenarios, where the Vikings had to choose between the lesser of two mediocrities.
You could argue they’re in somewhat similar territory this year with Bridgewater and Cassel, though we would argue it’s more of a legitimate competition: a rookie deemed to be close to NFL-ready coming out of college and a veteran who showed reasonable competency in 2013 and in previous seasons as a starter.
Cassel looked better in the preseason opener. Bridgewater has by many accounts looked quite good in most practices.
Our best guess still is that Cassel starts the season with the No. 1 job, but we also think the decision will be an interesting indicator of the mindset of Mike Zimmer and Norv Turner. Do they go the safe route and go with the veteran early against a tough schedule, or do they go all-in on a rebuild with the rookie?
Maybe it’s as simple as the best player for the job will win it, but if it’s a virtual tie it gets more complicated.
Reading this Deadspin post about the rise of big-homer, big-strikeout, low batting average players in recent years made us simply curious about just how many more strikeouts there are these days vs. the recent past.
As it turns out: a lot more.
The average MLB team is on pace to strike out 1,251 times this season. In 2005, the average for a season was 1,021. Only one team in 2005 (the Reds at 1,303) struck out as much as the average team strikes out this year. Here’s the full list by year, with the number creeping up every season since 2005:
Josh Willingham and Kevin Correia have been big league regulars for nearly a decade apiece. Neither has ever participated in the postseason, and until a few days ago it looked like neither would sniff the playoffs this year with the Twins.
But suddenly via trades — Willingham to the suddenly hot Royals and Correia to the Dodgers — both have the postseason in their sights.
The Royals have won eight in a row and moved past the slumping Tigers into first place in the AL Central on Monday. Correia made his Dodgers debut on the same night, pitching six innings of one-run ball to get the win.
It must be a completely difference scene from what either player has experienced in his career-to-date. Correia pitched for some bad Giants, Padres, Pirates and, yes, Twins teams. Willingham was with the Marlins, Washington, Oakland (they were 74-88 in his one season) and since 2012 with the Twins.
Usually this is the time of year both can settle in and play out the string. Instead, they both will find themselves in the heat of pennant races.
|Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman||1||FINAL|
|Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta||4|
|Houston - WP: T. Sipp||5||FINAL|
|Cleveland - LP: C. Allen||1|
|San Francisco - WP: T. Hudson||10||FINAL|
|Washington - LP: D. Fister||3|
|St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright||4||FINAL|
|Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick||5|
|Chicago WSox - LP: D. Webb||3||FINAL|
|NY Yankees - WP: D. Robertson||4|
|Tampa Bay - WP: D. Smyly||8||FINAL|
|Toronto - LP: M. Stroman||0|
|Atlanta - WP: D. Hale||3||FINAL|
|Cincinnati - LP: M. Parra||1|
|Seattle - WP: D. Leone||5||FINAL|
|Boston - LP: K. Uehara||3|
|Kansas City - WP: Y. Ventura||6||FINAL|
|Texas - LP: C. Lewis||3|
|Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke||8||FINAL|
|Milwaukee - LP: Y. Gallardo||3|
|Detroit - LP: R. Ray||6||FINAL|
|Minnesota - WP: R. Pressly||20|
|Miami - WP: H. Alvarez||13||FINAL|
|Colorado - LP: F. Morales||5|
|San Diego - LP: O. Despaigne||1||FINAL|
|Arizona - WP: J. Collmenter||5|
|LA Angels - LP: J. Grilli||3||FINAL|
|Oakland - WP: S. Gray||5|
|NY Mets - LP: J. Niese||2||FINAL|
|Los Angeles - WP: D. Haren||6|
|Tampa Bay||8/23/14 3:30 PM|
|Tennessee||8/23/14 6:00 PM|
|Dallas||8/23/14 6:00 PM|
|Washington||8/23/14 6:30 PM|
|New Orleans||8/23/14 7:00 PM|
|Minnesota||8/23/14 7:00 PM|
|St. Louis||8/23/14 7:00 PM|
|Houston||8/23/14 8:00 PM|
|San Diego||8/24/14 3:00 PM|
|Cincinnati||8/24/14 7:00 PM|
|Atlanta||8/28/14 5:00 PM|
|Detroit||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|Indianapolis||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|Kansas City||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|NY Jets||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|St. Louis||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|Carolina||8/28/14 6:30 PM|
|New England||8/28/14 6:30 PM|
|Washington||8/28/14 6:30 PM|
|Baltimore||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|Chicago||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|Denver||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|Minnesota||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|San Francisco||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|Arizona||8/28/14 9:00 PM|
|Seattle||8/28/14 9:00 PM|
|(21) Texas A&M||8/28/14 5:00 PM|
|(9) So Carolina|
|Wake Forest||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|Boise State||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|(18) Ole Miss|
|Tulane||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|Temple||8/28/14 8:15 PM|
|Rutgers||8/28/14 9:00 PM|
|Weber State||8/28/14 9:30 PM|
|(19) Arizona State|
|BYU||8/29/14 6:00 PM|
|(6) Jacksonville St||8/29/14 6:30 PM|
|(8) Michigan State|
|Bowling Green||8/29/14 6:30 PM|
|TX-San Antonio||8/29/14 8:00 PM|
|Colorado State||8/29/14 8:00 PM|
|UNLV||8/29/14 9:30 PM|
|UCF||8/30/14 7:30 AM|
|Real Salt Lake||1||FINAL|
|Toronto||8/23/14 3:00 PM|
|Calgary||8/24/14 2:00 PM|
|Saskatchewan||8/24/14 6:00 PM|
|Ottawa||8/29/14 6:30 PM|
|Winnipeg||8/31/14 2:00 PM|
|Toronto||9/1/14 12:00 PM|
|Edmonton||9/1/14 3:30 PM|
Poll: Which of Rick Nelson’s must-try foods at the State Fair do you most want to try?