Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nine Reasons to Love Baseball

So, to tide over all of TPD's readers, we're pulling out a piece from the archives that was penned a few years back.  We still feel the message applies though.

As we arrive upon the dog days of summer, we’re reminded that this time of the year belongs solely to baseball.  Sure the NHL and NBA playoffs are on, and although both of those events are some of the most entertaining, there is no doubt that baseball and summer are as American as apple pie on the fourth of July.  So to celebrate this time here are nine reasons to love this sport, one for each inning.

1. No Time Limit
Unlike most sports, baseball has no time limit. That means it ain’t over ’til it’s over, and the excitement of an extra-inning ball game is second to none. Need some proof? The longest recorded Major League game was on May 1, 1920. After 26 innings, Boston and Brooklyn ended with a 1-1 tie. Long enough for you?  If not, in 1984, Chicago defeated Milwaukee 7-6 in a game that lasted eight hours and six minutes.

2. Who Needs Instant Replay?
In baseball, there is no challenge flag, and the umpire crew is only allowed to survey the footage on a homerun call. From calling balls and strikes, fair or foul, safe or out, the game is completely under the umps’ control, which adds to the fact that baseball is a gentlemen’s game, and that ultimately, you can only control how you play your game.

3. Its Unique Language
ERA, WHIP, OBP, SLG%, BA, SV, K, BB, E, IBB, H, R, IP, AB, LOB, HBP, W, L, CS, RBI, 1B, 2B, 3B, HR, GIDP, DP – just a few examples of the second language baseball players and fans know and love. Baseball is all about numbers. It’s an intelligent game, not for the weak-minded, but yet when you boil it down, it’s quite simple. Hit the ball, field the ball, throw the ball, catch the ball.

4. The Presence of Failure
A 30 percent success rate in most sports isn’t considered good. But in baseball, fail to get a hit seven out of ten times, and you’re one of the better players. In baseball how often you fail is less important than your timing when you do succeed.

5. It’s a Game of Inches
Sixty feet and six inches. That’s the exact distance from the mound to home plate. The height of the mound from the ground is 10 inches, and 17 inches is the width of home plate. And those are just regulations. Imagine the actual surface area while trying to hit a round ball with a round bat. The batter has only fractions of a second to react to a 96 mph fastball. Baseball is as precise as it comes.

6. Every Player Has a Large Role
Everyone matters on the 25-man roster. Whether he is the third guy off the bench or the lefty specialist in the bullpen, each comes into play in almost every game.

7. The Postseason
It’s what every team strives for during the year. It’s the common goal. Whether it’s winning the division, or getting the wild card, the prize for best of the rest, the light at the end of the tunnel is the postseason. This is where dreams are made, or broken.

8. The History of the Postseason
To faithful baseball fans, some names will ring in memory forever. David Ortiz and his amazing 2004 playoff performance. Reggie Jackson, whose nickname is “Mr. October.” Joe Carter for his heroic walk-off home run that allowed the Blue Jays to take the ’93 World Series. Derek Jeter for his many postseason records. Don Larson for his perfect game five in the 1956 World Series. And of course (sorry, Cubs fans) Steve Bartman, who proved that the Cubbie Curse is still very much alive. The postseason has the power to take a no-name utility player and turn him into a hero, one who will live on in baseball history.

9. Baseball Is Truly American
As American as the Fourth of July and apple pie, baseball is a game that represents the red, white, and blue. Not only is it widely accepted as America’s pastime, but its everlasting spell is alive in every father and son who play catch. Baseball is a game that embodies the American spirit. It’s about patience (waiting for that good pitch), perseverance (playing through a slump), and seizing any and all opportunities (stealing bases).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Movin' On Up!

The TPD is proud to announce that our writer, Eric Melch, has been published on the official UFL website.  To view the article, click the link below, and make sure to continue your support of the Two Point Diversion!


Land of Ten Thousand Headaches

The term “Minnesota Nice” is used to describe the usual happy and chipper demeanor of those residing in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.  However, this year has brought quite a bit of strain and hardship on those in who cheer for the teams that wear “Minnesota” on their uniforms, and in very few cases, does it look to be getting any better.  The Twin Cities are one of the few areas in the nation that support a team in each of the big four professional sports leagues; the Minnesota Vikings (NFL), Minnesota Twins (MLB), Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA), and the Minnesota Wild (NHL).  To give you a quick idea of what we’re talking about, lets take a look at each teams most recent season.

            The Minnesota Vikings came into the 2010-2011 season coming off of a NFC Championship game appearance in which they lost a heartbreaker to the New Orleans Saints.  With expectations high, the Vikings fell flat on their face.  The Vikings, led by aging quarterback Brett Favre, went a dismal 6-10, occupying the cellar of the NFC North division even falling below the Detroit Lions.  Despite returning much of their roster from the previous season, the Vikings could never put it together, with the tipping point coming in a trade for former Viking wide receiver Randy Moss from New England in exchange for a third round draft pick.  The much publicized reuniting of the two parties lasted only four weeks, in which Moss produced minimal numbers for the struggling offense, and was low lighted with an instance of physical abuse towards a plate of cold barbecue.

            Looking forward for the Minnesota Vikings, they have one thing many other teams in the league cannot claim, which is a top shelf level running back like Adrian Peterson.  Unfortunately for the Vikings, they don’t have much to help support Peterson, and defenses will lick their chops against this offense as they dare rookie quarterback Christian Ponder to throw the ball and load up defenders in to box to hold Peterson in check. 

The Favre experiment left the Vikings handicapped, as they now are going to have to rely on either Ponder of Joe Webb to command that offense, unless you buy into the idea of them signing Donovan McNabb.  Bringing Favre onto the roster was not a total bust, as he reinvigorated his career in 2009, showing some of the old magic from his Green Bay days in plays like this pass to Greg Lewis.  Overall, moving forward, Minnesota will have to try and balance providing Peterson with carries and putting their young quarterbacks into manageable situations for them to succeed.  All is not lost in Viking-land, and the promise of a new stadium in Arden Hills is giving the franchise some hope.

            The Minnesota Timberwolves were just recently dealt another blow to their perennially terrible franchise, by being overtaken for the first overall draft pick in the 2011 NBA draft by a Cleveland pick which had roughly a three percent chance of gaining the top spot.  Ever since the departure of NBA great Kevin Garnett, the T’Wolves have squandered any decent talent that had made it’s way onto their roster, more recently forward Al Jefferson. 

ricky-rubio.jpg            The 2010-’11 Timberwolves limped through the NBA season with a team of misfits and castaways, with the only shimmering gleam of hope coming from Kevin Love.  To be completely honest, the Timberwolves might be the best thing for Kevin Love’s production and statistics.  Don’t get the wrong idea, Love is a naturally talented rebounder and has made improvements on his offensive game, but on any team currently in the Conference Championship games, Love would be the third or fourth best player on the roster and would really only be used as a defender and rebounder.  With the Timberwolves, Love is their premium scoring option surrounded by a lackluster group of throw away guards and discarded big men (Darko is the prime example). 

            Finding hope in the T’Wolves situation is like searching for a attractive women’s softball first basemen, you really have to squint and hope to blur the edges enough to make it passable.  The Wolves are still waiting on supposed sensation Ricky Rubio to come to the team, and are trying to push the media and their fans into believing a team with Wes Johnson and Michael Beasley as primary scoring options other than Love. 

Moreover, the Timberwolves have always gotten placed in the draft in a position where they’re just out of reach of any marquee name players.  This year there is only one arguable sure thing in Duke guard Kyrie Irving, who will most likely be taken with the first overall pick.  If I were David Kahn, I’d go with Derick Williams from Arizona.  Put him at power forward, deal Love for a fast, lethal shooting guard (Stephen Curry maybe?) and then get Rubio over and trot out a lineup of Rubio, Curry, Johnson, Williams, and Beasley and go all out Phoenix Suns run-and-gun offense.  The fact that those five names are maybe their best chance at success should give you an idea of how far down this franchise truly is.

The only team of the major four in the Twin Cities that plays it’s games in St. Paul is the Minnesota Wild.  The Wild play at a great arena, the Xcel Energy Center, and are privileged enough to play in what is widely regarded as the State of Hockey.  However, it’s no secret that Minnesota has an ugly past with professional hockey, losing the North Stars back in the ’93-’94 season to Dallas and being teamless for a period of six years.  Since their creation in 2000, the Wild have had great fan support, but have lacked the extra gear to make a real competitive splash on the league.  This past season was no different, except the fact that for the first time the Wild saw their attendance numbers drop, most likely caused by the decrease in quality of play and the increase in ticket prices.        
The 2010-2011 season was another middle of the road performance for the Wild, who went 39-35, putting them in third place in the Northwest Division behind Vancouver and Calgary.  At one point during the season, the Wild seemed to be pushing for a playoff spot, but a crash and burn performance put those thoughts to rest.  The one point of promise for the Wild is that they do still identify quite a bit with their fans.  Their roster is full of fan favorite guys such as Cal Clutterbuck and Mikko Koivu.  One thing with being in the middle of the pack is that arguably, the Wild are only a move or two away from being a competitive team, and perhaps there are greener pastures in the future for this team.

Perhaps the one bright spot over the past few years in the Cities has been the Minnesota Twins.  The Twins have battled for the AL Central title and won it six times over the past 10 seasons, and have been led by homegrown golden boy Joe Mauer.  After signing a blockbuster deal this past offseason, Mauer has been bit by the injury bug, joining first basemen and neighbor to the north Justin Morneau, who was still feeling the lingering effects of his concussion he suffered last season. 

joe-mauer-twins-20ad5804db9ea7ee_large.jpgThe Twins 2011 season thus far has been devastating.  The Twins are currently 13-27, the worst record in Major League Baseball, and despite an inspired performance from the on again, off again Francisco Liriano on the night of the passing of Twin great Harmon Killebrew, Twins fans have had very little to cheer about.  Even Liriano’s no hitter a few weeks back was about as ugly as a no-no can get.  Beyond Liriano, the Twins pitching staff is a snore fest, with guys like Carl Pavano, Kevin Slowey, and Nick Blackburn making up the starters.  The Twins could also be mistaken for their AAA Rochester affiliate, as the players being called up and sent down have made the Twins roster a revolving door of overwhelmed minor leaguers and underperforming big leaguers. 

Little hope lingers amongst Twins fans, as they finally may be witnessing the end of their run.  Talk of moving Mauer from behind the plate and into the outfield to protect their $23 million investment has left fans torn into two parties, and besides prospect Kyle Gibson, there seems to be little help lying in wait in the farm system. 

Overall, the Twin Cities could be better regarded as the Thin Cities when it comes to athletic talent.  In fact, if you really want to witness the best team built for success, be sure to tune in to the Minnesota Lynx this summer during the WBNA season, as their starting five ladies all were former collegiate All-Americans, highlighted by Maya Moore.  The past sentence should give you an idea of the dire situation Minnesota sports fans find themselves in, and it’s only a matter of time before that “Minnesota Nice” wears off and fans serve up some “Minnesota Ice.”

Saturday, May 14, 2011

TPD Joins YouTube

Hello all of our TPD readers.  Just a quick update.  TPD has created a channel on YouTube, the link is below.  We probably won't be posting very many videos unless our writers decide to capture some footage while their out and about at various sporting events, but make sure to subscribe to us and we'll favorite some really entertaining videos and also some videos that pertain to our articles.  Check us out, and don't forget to like us on Facebook, follow us on twitter (@twoptdiv), or sign up with your gmail account via this website!

Thanks to all, this has been really great so far!

Two Point Diversion YouTube Channel

Friday, May 13, 2011

Eight for the Octagon



Many soccer fans argue that the U.S. isn't as talented nor successful as the rest of the world because our premier athletes choose to play other sports rather than futbol.  While soccer tries to break it's way into the big four professional sports played in the U.S., MMA has been a growing industry, which made TPD ponder, what if our premier athletes choose to put on the gloves and step into the Octagon?  Here are eight athletes we feel could hold there own against the likes of Jon Jones, Cain Velasquez, and GSP.

-Patrick Willis, LB, San Francisco 49ers
6’1” 240
            At 6’1”, 240 lbs., Patrick Willis would fit right in height wise in the heavyweight division.  The middle linebacker for the 49ers is a freak of nature on the gridiron, being as built as he is with an uncanny amount of speed and quickness to compliment.  He is also a smart player, basically quarterbacking a 49er defense that was the top unit in 2009.  A three-sport athlete in high school (football, basketball, baseball), Willis was named Mr. Football in the state of Tennessee not only as a linebacker, but also as a running back.

-Andre Iguodala, F, Philadelphia 76ers
6’6” 207
            Iguodala can be described in one phrase: freak of nature.  The 76ers small forward is all muscle, and combines that with NBA level speed, as well as a quickness and tenacity that allows him to be one of the top level defenders in basketball.  At 207, we would see Iguodala dropping down to the Light Heavyweight division.  Picture this for one moment; a championship match up for the Light Heavyweight title between Jon Jones and Andre Iguodala…yeah, we just got chills too.

-Russell Westbrook, G, Oklahoma City Thunder
6’3” 187
            Russell Westbrook is not only crazy athletic, but he brings attitude to the hardwood as well, a skill that would serve him well if he were to step into the ring.  The former UCLA Bruin and Kevin Love roommate (a little T’wolves shout out), currently commands to court for the young Oklahoma City Thunder, and his game is driven by his attitude and swagger.  Unlike many of his other NBA counterparts on this list, Westbrook’s height would be very similar to what he would be facing off against in the Middleweight division.

Vernon Davis: Enough muscle for ya?
-Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49er’s
6’3” 250
            The three sport athlete at his Washington D.C. high school, Vernon Davis has no shortage of athleticism at his disposal.  Depsite excelling at football and basketball, Davis was able to win a DCIAA championship in the high jump for his track and field team, leaping a height of six feet and five inches.  Standing at 6’3”, he would stand eye to eye with former champ Brock Lesnar and would stand over currently champ Cain Velasquez by two inches and roughly six pounds.  Combining his size and speed, along with his ability to handle blocking charging defensive ends and linebackers, we feel Davis would be a handful in the Heavyweight division.

-Carl Crawford, OF, Boston Red Sox
6’2” 215
            TPD had trouble finding some baseball players that would hold their own in the Octogon.  With Nolan Ryan retiring some years ago, and Milton Bradley being literally too crazy to be considered, we choose Bo Sox outfielder Carl Crawford.  Widely regarded as one of the hardest workers in the MLB, Crawford combines power and speed like nobody’s business.  His overall speed and athleticism, combined with superior hand eye coordination and quickness would allow Crawford to somewhat compete.  To be competitive, Crawford would most likely have to drop down to 205 and fight as a Light Heavyweight, as 215 is on the lighter end of the Heavyweight scale.

-Ray Lewis, LB, Baltimore Ravens 
6’1” 250
            We know Ray Ray is old, but the man has a swagger that is second to none.  And although it may be true that he is beginning to lose a bit of his speed, there’s no doubt his confidence and experience gives him an edge on his competition.  Pertaining directly to the Octogon, Lewis was a 4A Florida State Wrestling Champ back in high school, and a career of crushing QB’s and navigating his way through an offensive line prove he has the mentality as well as the intelligence to break down a situation with multiple factors in mere fractions of a sentence.  Now imagine he only has to train all of his fury on one opponent standing across the mat.

-Rajon Rondo, G, Boston Celtics
6’1” 171
All successful NBA players have length, but Rondo is seen as in a class of his own.  Combine that length with the evasive way he manipulates himself through the lane, and you’d have a sneaky, slippery fighter that would use his length and craftiness to defeat his opponents.  Rondo would have the ability to fight at either the Middle or Welterweight division, in either scenario his length would allow him to better defend against the better grappling techniques seen at the lower weight classes.

-Matt Carkner, D, Ottawa Senators
6’4” 231
Ground and pound, NHL style.
            A solid defensemen for the Senators, we only choose one hockey player to put on this list, because honestly, they all like to fight and could make up a list of their own.  Carkner is a big body with a nasty streak, always being at the top of the NHL in fights.  Carkner’s only shortcoming would be his height combined with his weight, with Cain Velasquez standing three inches shorter but 10 pounds heavier.  However, no one could question a hockey players balance and coordination, so we wouldn’t worry too much about his ability to handle his body in the Octagon.

Honorable Mention:

-LeBron James, F, Miami Heat
6’8” 250
          James is just a bit too tall for MMA, but regardless, we'd never want to see King James across the ring from us.

-Rickie Weeks, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers
5’10” 215
         Unlike James, Weeks is a bit on the shorter end of the spectrum, but if he dropped down to 205, it'd be an interesting prospect.

-Julius Peppers, DE, Chicago Bears
6’7” 283
        Peppers is about 20 pounds too heavy for the Heavyweight division, but he's crazy athletic nonetheless, and handles himself well with his quick feet.

A UFL Future for Five QB's

The UFL Draft took place on May 2nd, with a total of 52 players selected by the five teams that make up the UFL.  Of those 52, five quarterbacks were taken in the draft, each of them show promise to contribute to their team and build a successful career in the UFL.  Here is a break down of the five signal callers taken in the 2011 draft, and their prospects for the 2011 UFL season.

Jerrod Johnson Texas A&M (2010): Hartford, 1st overall pick
            YRDS: 1,947 CMP%: 56.6  YPA: 6.98  TD: 14  INT: 9  SACK: 25  RAT: 125.4
jerrodjohnson1.jpgOther QB’s on Roster:
            -Josh McCown
            -Colt Brennan*

            The 2010 season for Jerrod Johnson was cut short as he only completed in seven out of the thirteen games, even missing their Cotton Bowl matchup against LSU.  To get a better idea of Johnson’s skills, look at his ’09 campaign in which he threw for 3,579 yards, 30 touchdowns and only eight interceptions.  Johnson is a big quarterback (6’4”, 238 lbs.) who is able to survey the field over the line and pass with solid accuracy (roughly 60% completion during his ’08 and ’09 seasons.)
            Johnson joins the Colonials in what we see as a three way battle for the starting position.  We feel that Johnson, Brennan, and McCown, the returning starter, all have a legitimate shot at the starting quarterback job.  McCown returns to the team after a season in which he threw for over 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns, and Brennan joins the squad coming off of a lackluster NFL career with something to prove.  Look for a tight three way battle, but all of the QB’s should get a look this season.

Ryan Colburn Fresno St. (2010): Sacramento, 3rd overall pick
            YRDS: 2,817  CMP%: 63.1  YPA: 7.83  TD: 23  INT: 9  SACK: 36 RAT: 144.9

Other QB’s on Roster
            -Daunte Culpepper
            -Liam O’Hagan
            -Jeff Mroz* (Yale)

            In the 2010 Humanitarian Bowl against Northern Illinois, Fresno State quarterback Ryan Colburn did quite a bit to try and will his team to a victory.  Colburn threw for 288 yards on 28 of 38 (73.7%) passing with two touchdowns and no interceptions.  Despite coming in a 40-17 loss, the performance was indicative of Colburn’s final season as a Bulldog, in which his only two subpar performances came against Hawaii and Boise State.  Colburn is also a big quarterback, standing at 6’3” and weighing in at 220 lbs.
875563.jpg            Colburn arrives on the team with the most returners at the position.  Colburn will have to compete with last years starter, Daunte Culpepper, a seasoned vet who had a very successful season with the Mountain Lions last year, throwing for 1,900 yards and 10 touchdowns.  OHagan has been a consistent back up in the UFL since 2009.  We see Colburn landing in a solid position in which he can learn quite a bit from Culpepper, as it’s somewhat unlikely he’ll be able to steal away a starting spot.  However, look for Colburn to get a decent amount of time this season.

Mike Teel Rutgers (2008): Las Vegas, 31st pick
            YRDS: 3,418  CMP%: 61.4  YPA: 8.63  TD: 25  INT: 13  SACK: 16 RAT: 148.1

Other QB’s on Roster:
            -Chase Clement

            Teel was originally drafted back in 2009 out of Rutgers by the Seattle Seahawks in the sixth round (178th overall).  Most recently, Teel was released by the Chicago Bears after only a few weeks on the roster.  Never registering any stats during his brief NFL career, we look at his years at Rutgers, specifically his 2008 season.  Over his four year career as a Scarlett Knight, Teel was able to lead his team to three bowl victories, coming against Kansas St. (’06), Ball St. (’07), and North Carolina St. (’08).  Much like Colburn, Teel stands at 6’3” and weighs in at 230 lbs.
            Teel’s primary competition for the starting job of the Loco’s will be returning third stringer Chase Clement.  Clement threw for only 212 yards last season and one touchdown with Las Vegas last season, playing behind Tim Rattay and Drew Willy.  Teel comes in as a challenger, and Clement would seem to have the upper hand just on experience alone as a member of the returning UFL Champions.  But Clement was still a third string QB, so you can bet that Teel will give him a run for his money.
Jeremiah Masoli Ole Miss (2010): Omaha, 38th pick
            YRDS: 2039  CMP%: 56.4  YPA: 6.89  TD: 14  INT: 13  SACK: 11  RAT: 121.1

       Other QB’s on Roster
            -D.J. Shockley

Masoli-Jeremiah-Oregon-Ducks-02-222x300.jpg            Obviously known more so for his time with the University of Oregon, Masoli’s final season at Ole Miss was less than stellar.  Although his completion percentage never reached higher than 58%, Masoli completed only 56.4% of his passes during the 2010 season, which is reason for concern.  Despite his lower passintog numbers, Masoli has always made up for his shortcomings in the pocket with his rushing ability.  In 2010, Masoli ran for 544 yards, the smallest amount in his career, the high coming in 2008 with 718 rushing yards.  The other possible issue with Masoli is that he is rather small in stature, standing only 5’11” and weighing 220 lbs.
            Masoli joins the Nighthawks competing with third stringer D.J. Shockley.  Shockley backed up Jeff Garcia and Matt Gueterrez last season and only compiled 30 yards passing.  Much like Mike Teel, Masoli comes in only second on the depth chart because of his lack of UFL experience.  However, in a similar situation to Pat White joining the Destroyers, Masoli brings an added element of athleticism to the table with his ability to rush the football and scramble.  In an open battle for the starting position, we see Masoli having a real chance as the signal caller for the Nighthawks this season.

Derek Devine Marshall (2006): Virginia, 45th pick
            YRDS: 23  CMP%: 66.7  YPA: 7.76  TD: 0 INT: 0  SACK: 0  RAT: 131.1

Other QB’s on Roster
            -Pat White*

I0000FfVOn7sJ1t4.jpg            The second quarterback taken in the draft with prior experience in the NFL, Devine was signed by the Seattle Seahawks in 2007 as an undrafted free agent, and then was given an opportunity with the Washington Redskins in 2008.  Much like Teel, Devine was unable to record any statistics during his NFL career and views the UFL as a second chance.  Devine is highly unproven but has the stature much like the other bigger quarterbacks taken in the draft (6’3”, 224 lbs.). 
            An unproven Devine will compete with the possibility of Pat White, an interesting match up that should end up heavily in White’s favor.  We see White having the potential to have an extraordinary season, with his ability not only to pass the ball, but his lethal running ability as well.  However, White’s NFL career was without many high points, but ultimately we feel that his athletic ability will overtake Devine, but there are certainly no guarantees.  

Monday, May 9, 2011


TPD would like to apologize for the lack of regular content recently.  Most of our writers are college students, and this current week is finals week so we've all been busy preparing for those a juggling studying with watching no-hitters, and the NBA and NHL playoffs.  We promise new content tomorrow and hope you all keep coming back to the TPD!