Down on the Farm: Battle of the Sioux (at the Falls)

Sioux Falls Stadium 3

With the Independent and Minor League Baseball regular seasons a month from closing, and the Northwoods League schedule roughly a week away from conclusion, we’ve hit the proverbial dog days of baseball across the Heartland. Few locales was this more evident than a steamy night in eastern South Dakota when two last place teams separated by just 85 miles did battle.

Breaking down the wide open NL MVP race

Troy Tulowitzki

For the first three months of the MLB season, it looked like Troy Tulowitzki was going to run away with the 2014 National League MVP award. The Rockies shortstop was leading the league in batting average (.340), slugging percentage (.432), on-base percentage (.603) and OPS (1.035), in addition to ranking first in WAR (5.6) and third in home runs (21) just a few weeks ago. But a few developments in the last few weeks have paved the way for what could very well be a wide-open NL MVP race as we head towards the stretch run.

Down on the Farm: Montgomery Exudes Southern Charm

Riverwalk Stadium 8

I enjoyed my May visit to Birmingham’s Regions Field so much that upon a July return to Alabama, I headed 90 miles south to check out Southern League rival Montgomery’s yard. Capitalizing on unseasonably pleasant weather with temps in the low 80s didn’t bother this northerner either.

Down on the Farm: The Other Mayo Facility in Rochester

Mayo Field 6

A recent visit to southeast Minnesota wrapped up six days and 3,000 miles on the road during a pleasantly mild late July.

Mayo Field is the fourth and likely final Northwoods League I’ll visit and review this summer, marking six total going back to 2013.

2014 Milwaukee Brewers: Top 10 Wins of the First Half

Brewers Walk Off

The first half of the 2014 season has been quite eventful for the Milwaukee Brewers, as they’ve done everything from scoring three runs on a wild pitch to literally hitting the cover off of a baseball. Through it all, they’ve been one of the biggest surprises in the MLB, boasting a 53-43 record and a one-game lead in the NL Central entering the All-Star break.

Down on the Farm: A Visit to “MoonDog Country”

Franklin Rogers Park 1

As the baseball world observes Minnesota’s love affair with the sport this week, I continued my trip to amateur yards around the North Star State.

Down on the Farm: Fargo Lives up to Expectations

Newman Outdoor Field

When the Indianapolis Indians marked 15 years of baseball at beautiful Victory Field in 2011, the running local commentary was that few believed the ballpark was that old due to its magnificent condition. While perhaps not as grandiose at the Triple-A stadium in downtown Circle City, Newman Outdoor Field, also in existence since 1996, could boast similar claims.

Let the Crowd, and Not a Hired Performer, Sing the National Anthem

Clint Dempsey and DaMarcus Beasley, on the other hand, are content to listen respectfully while someone else sings the national anthem.  (Photo by KEVIN COX/GETTY IMAGES)

Yesterday, while Americans celebrated the 238th anniversary of our independence, hundreds of millions of people elsewhere in the world (and here too) celebrated the beginning of quarterfinal play at the FIFA World Cup. After a three-day break the world’s biggest sporting event resumed at Noon Eastern with the national anthems of France and Germany.

Final 2014 NBA Draft prospect rankings with scouting reports

Andrew Wiggins

The 2014 NBA Draft will be upon us Thursday night and this year’s class is easily the deepest in a decade. While speculation has run wild over the past few days about who will go where, there is absolutely no question that any number of guys could be worthy of being the top pick this year.

With that in mind here are our final prospect rankings for this year’s draft. What follows is the top 30 players in this year’s draft class with a scouting report for each. Remember this isn’t the order I necessarily believe these guys will be drafted in, it’s just my ranking of their overall ability.

The 10 best position groups in the NFL

Richard Sherman Earl Thomas Kam Chancellor

As OTAs are winding down for NFL teams we’re starting to get a better picture of what each roster will look like this fall. With that in mind, here our ranking of the 10 best position groups in the league. Some of them have been helped out by free agency and the draft, while others have been dominant for several years.

What I’ve learned watching the Spurs “pound the rock”

AP Photo

“I think the Spurs are gonna win it all,” my dad told me a few weeks ago. This was before San Antonio fully morphed into the fully operational Death Star of offensive efficiency that we watched eviscerate Miami in five games. Hell, this was before we knew if they would be able to shake the demons of 2012’s conference finals loss to Oklahoma City, much less the heartbreak in South Beach 12 months ago.

Down on Farm: St. Paul Puts on a Show

Midway Stadium 3

The St. Paul Saints predate their big-time friends across America’s chief river by nearly a century. This is actually the fourth incarnation of the franchise, beginning briefly during the Benjamin Harrison administration, then returning a decade later through 1899, followed by a 1915-60 run, ending just before the Washington Senators became the Minnesota Twins.

Down on the Farm: Anchors Away

Knute Nelson Memorial Park 2

The fourth season of Down on the Farm continues with a trip to Knute Nelson Memorial Park in Alexandria, Minnesota.

Down on the Farm: Stingers Reward Supporters

Taunton Stadium

As a resident for nearly a year now, I realize Minnesota is a hockey state. However, baseball is surprisingly well-funded across the Land of 10,000 Lakes too. This is particularly validated when traveling back roads through small Minnesota communities that seem to encompass one hidden gem of a ballpark after another. Considering the harsh winters, the immaculate conditions of fields by May is also rather impressive.

Pat Foley will finally be inducted into Hockey Hall of Fame

Pat-Foley

Announcers are like soundtracks to movies. If they are great, they become more than just background noise – they become an integral part of the larger whole. Pat Foley, longtime announcer for the Chicago Blackhawks, is they kind of announcer that adds a whole other level the game with his play-by-play and personality.