Monday, April 28, 2008

monday afternoon quarterback

Peter King, over at Sports Illustrated writes a weekly column called "Monday Morning Quarterback," or "MMQB."  I read it pretty much every week.  And pretty much every week, it's an irritating experience in some way or another.  I don't mean to sound snobbish (I will, anyway), but the banality of his blind love (and written adulation) of Starbucks hazelnut-lattes is neither poignant nor interesting.  

Thankfully, this week wasn't really all that bad.  Neither Starbucks, nor a heartwarming-story-of-a-soldier-abroad made it into the column.  More importantly than that, even, PK devoted plenty of column-inches to the beloved Purple.  A sample, from the teams-whose-draft-he-liked section:

3. Minnesota. In a span of five days, the Vikings added the best available pass-rusher in football (Jared Allen), the best safety in the draft (Tyrell Johnson of Arkansas State), and a good challenger to put a little heat on Tavaris Jackson, USC quarterback John David Booty.

Like I've said throughout this Allen deal, long-term it has some real risks I would not have taken. But on opening day 2008, one of the top five defenses in football will have the biggest impact acquisition of the offseason in Allen, and it will also have either the best special-teams gunner or best young tackling safety in football in Johnson.

It's good to see the national media give some love to the Vikes on occasion.  Even so, I have to break out my red pen.  The awkwardness of this sentence — "But on opening day 2008, one of the top five defenses in football will have the biggest impact acquisition of the offseason in Allen, and it will also have either the best special-teams gunner or best young tackling saftey in football in Johnson" — astounds.  The phrase "in football" appears twice.  The second clause, the one about Tyrell Johnson, doesn't have much to do with the first, aside from the observation that both new Vikings tackle people well.  

King does make the salient point that Jared Allen will make about the same amount of money this year as the combined salaries of the six best starters on the Vikes' defense.  How might Pat Williams and Kevin Williams feel about that?  I'll venture that they'll mostly be happy about their newfound lack of double-teams, salary be damned.  Perhaps I'm being too optimistic.

The one thing that REALLY got under my skin, however, was this: "I think, if you gave him sodium pentathol, Chris Long would tell you he wishes he had gone to the Patriots, even if it would have cost him a lot of money to do so."  Sure, maybe Chris Long would have preferred to go some other place than St. Louis.  But, Mr. King, your Patriots homerism borders on outright projection here.  I'm sure that you would have preferred Long to the Patriots, but I'm not sure that he would have.  In about three weeks, said star defensive end will graduate from the University of Virginia, where there is a strict and dearly-held honor code.  Students who are caught and convicted of lying, cheating, or stealing at UVA are asked to leave.  Somehow, I don't think that a team whose first-round draft choice was revoked as a punishment for cheating would be a good fit for first-rounder Chris Long.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

football names are great

If you find yourself reading this blog, you probably know that the NFL draft was this weekend.  Here in Virginia, a thunderstorm rained out a steeplechase — the overspilling of sunburnt, sundressed-and-pearled, seersuckered and utterly soaked truckloads of UVA undergrads this event bestowed upon town was a sight bested only by the double rainbow that followed — and in New York, the Minnesota Vikings selected five rookies with funny names.

Rick Spielman and Brad Childress have decided to build our beloved Purple from the inside out.  The first four picks of the Vikings draft play in the middle of the field: at safety, quarterback, defensive tackle and center.  It's a strategy hard to argue with.

As the offseason began, the safety position needed some help.  Dwight Smith had gotten in trouble with the law just a little too much, and was so shown the door.  Darren Sharper (who, by the way, is your blogger's favourite Viking) hasn't been getting any younger or more spry, despite his in-house hyperbaric chamber.  Regrettably, we had cut the tastefully named Greg Blue last season.  And so, the Vikes signed Madieu Williams and Michael Boulware to shore up the breaking levee.  

And then, when the forty-third overall pick came up on Saturday, Brad Childress called up his buddy Andy Reid to trade a fourth-rounder for a swap of turns at the podium with Philadelphia.  With said forty-third overall pick, the Vikings selected Tyrell Johnson, a tenaciously hard-hitting strong safety from Arkansas State.  His scouting report and bio reveals that Johnson was drafted as an MA candidate, who stayed on even after he'd earned his Bachelor's in less than four years.  Johnson has the prototypical size and speed (6', 200', 4.56 sec/40-yds) to start at strong safety in the NFL.  The tiny bit of film that I've watched shows him shedding blocks and hitting like a linebacker.  The scouts say that stiffness-of-hip keeps him from matching up well in man coverage, but his good instincts make him a very good defender in a cover-2 zone.  We should expect Tyrell Marcellous Johnson to contribute immediately on special teams, and to understudy Darren Sharper.  It's a smart pick — particularly so given the drought that affected this year's crop of safeties.

John David Booty, who possesses perhaps the best of all possible names for a quarterback out of Southern California (University of), comes to Minnesota via the one-hundred-thirty-seventh selection in the 2008 NFL Entry Draft.  [Whew.  That was a mouthful.]  Booty's got good smarts, and a knowledge of all things West Coast – West Coast Offense, that is.  Chilly's playbook should be a quick read for this cerebral QB, who ran a pro-style offense at USC.  The biggest knock on him is that he lacks toughness and real arm-strength.  Let's just hope that he's more Drew Brees than Kelly Holcomb.

In Letroy Guion, the Vikes seem to have found a quick, strong brawler of a defensive tackle, who declared eligible for the draft after only three seasons.  He's raw, but has the potential to replace augustine Pat Williams.  This season, Guion will have the occasional chance to make plays in the best defensive tackle rotation in the NFL.

In the sixth round, our beloved Purple selected an ox of a center and a sparrow of a wide receiver.  John Sullivan, formerly of Rudy University (Notre Dame), plays with a real mean-streak, and may well replace venerable pro-bowler Matt Birk, who is aging and in a contract year.  Jaymar Johnson is a small-school burner (thankfully not a small school-burner) from Jackson State, who runs a 4.35 in the 40.  Other than expounding upon the alliterative possibilities of a name like Jaymar Johnson, I couldn't tell you much about the newest Viking.

And by the bye: Mr. Irrelevant, the unofficial title of the last pick in the draft, is an outside linebacker from Idaho named David Vobora.  The St. Louis Rams, who opened the 2008 selection process on Saturday with UVA Cavalier Chris Long (the picking-first-overall Dolphins signed Jake Long earlier this week), closed it on Sunday with pick 252.  This year's Mr. Irrelevant will join a team with a center named Richie Incognito.

Don't you love football names?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

"to verb the adjective noun!"

Today is draft day.  It's not the draft for Iraq (within the year, I will happily lose a $55 bet from 2004 about such a thing), thankfully, but for the NFL.  Because the Vikings only have one pick today, I will be babbling about other things, by and large.

There are several sports-related sites out there that have assigned someone to "blog the draft."  All over the interweb, people are blogging the draft.  It's such a strange turn of phrase, really.  Say you were from 1997 or so (wouldn't that be strange) and didn't know what a weblog was.  I wonder what you would think when someone told you he was going "to blog the draft."  

The noun-ness of the word "blog" is pretty great, eh?  The word "blog," aside from being a weblog of something — a 'blog — suggests a booger or a hairball or some other byproduct of one orifice or another.  My friend's blog runs the subtitle, "i think i ate a blog once."    Incidentally, on said blog, she shares with us recipes for gluten-free pad thai.

The verb-ness of the word "blog" might be even more scrumptious.  "Weblog" doesn't translate well into a verb in the same way that it is already a noun.  As a transitive verb, well, it sucks. "Todd McShay will weblog the draft," for example, just doesn't sell ESPN Insider subscriptions in the same way that, "Todd McShay: Blogging the draft," does.  Somehow, "to blog" has a certain, well, umph.

A couple of years ago, I was in a coffee shop with a buddy of mine.  There was a girl that he really liked, and he was chatting her up in a by-and-large mundane sort of way.  She lit up, however, when she mentioned her blog.  She'd recently started blogging.  Dutifully, my friend perked up and said — completely unwittingly — "I'll blog your blog!"  The awkward silence that followed was priceless.  

So, without having blogged anything of consequence, your dutiful narrator will sign out for now.

Friday, April 25, 2008

"Sulphate Injections"

In an effort to curtail global warming, some scientists have suggested pumping suphur into the atmosphere.  Other scientists, who fear ozone depletion, don't warm to the idea.  

Read the article here.

. . .

Please tell me if you disagree, but the slant that both the Science and the BBC reporters take on this idea suggests that this here sulphur idea is, well, not smart.

At least, it seems like a self-evidently stupid idea to me.  

Has anyone else noticed that the press has begun to use "climate change" interchangeably with "global warming?"  Here, the BBC reporter writes, "Sulphate injections are one of several 'geo-engineering' solutions to climate change being discussed by scientists."  Now, if a "sulphate injection" affects the ozone layer over the Arctic and Antarctic poles, or blocks enough sunshine to cool the planet, then it changes the climate, and it is itself "climate change."  So, what's the difference?  "Global warming" is the increase in average atmospheric temperature.  "Climate change" refers to the chage in average weather over longer periods of time, like seasons, years, and decades.  Global warming causes climate change.  

Also, does the phrase "suphate injection" make anyone else uncomfortable?

Inaugural Post! (break out the purple champagne)

So.  Welcome to the Virginia Viking, a stop on the information superhighway to get one dislocated Minnesota Vikings fan's outlook on our Beloved Purple.  

I had meant to launch this blog this weekend, concurrent with the upcoming NFL draft.  If you've found this site, you probably already know that Zygi has traded away our first-round pick and both of our third-round picks in exchange for star defensive end Jared Allen.  The Kansas City Chiefs will almost assuredly have the more exciting draft this weekend.  That's all ok though, as we will almost assuredly have the most exciting defensive line this season. 

Alas, that's old (but exciting!) news.  

Earlier this offseason, I stopped by Pacifist Viking, and found out that the wicked witch is dead.  That's right -- Brett Farve retired.  Then he almost un-retired.  Now, he's on the cover of Madden '09.  How frustrating is that?  Really.  As long as I've been a Vikings fan, that man has been the nemesis personified.  I thought that we could all begin to move on, but no.  At least the Madden Curse isn't directed toward the Purple Jesus this season.

Anyhow.  There will be much more to come.  For now, welcome to the Virginia Viking!