Pickin’ On the Big Ten, Week 5: Ice-Cold Hoke Zero

Brady Hoke

The Wheel of Narrative has spun once more, and this week the Big Ten’s arrow is pointing to “hopeful.” (WARNING: Not valid in Washtenaw County, Michigan.) Can the conference keep the good football rolling? Or, now that conference play begins in earnest, are we just being set up for another five-loss conference champion? Your answer begins … now.

Pickin’ On the Big Ten: I’m OK, You’re OK, It’s Not OK

Miami Nebraska

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: The Big Ten plays some pretty important non-conference games in front of millions of eyes, but things don’t quite go according to p-

(The Internet, as one: “Stop! We’ve heard this one!”)

Gladly. You think you’re sick of hearing it? Think how sick I am of writing it.

Pickin’ On the Big Ten, Week 3: All Thy Sins Laid Bare

James Franklin Penn State

I don’t know if you noticed, but the Big Ten lost a few important non-conference games last week. In this week’s Big Ten football picks I’ll be looking at each team, evaluating what’s working and what clearly isn’t. Well, as clearly as anything can be evaluated after just two weeks. To the games!

Pickin’ On the Big Ten, Week 2: The Something Strange Is Always Les Miles

Wisconsin LSU

Big Ten football didn’t have too many shocks last week. There were only two real surprises, one pleasant (Rutgers’ win over Washington State) and one unpleasant but probably not all that surprising (Northwestern’s loss to Cal, which is the fault of everybody but Pat Fitzgerald, to hear him tell it). What’s in store for week two? Click through and see how I’m calling the games this week.

Pickin’ On the Big Ten, Week 1: Appalachian State and Other Disasters

Michigan Appalachian State

Week One of the 2014 Big Ten football season is here. I’ve already given you my picks for the three early games this upcoming week, but what about the games that are being played when they’re supposed to be, on Saturday? Click on, pilgrim; I’ve got some picks for you.

Pickin’ On the Big Ten, Week 1: Weird Non-Saturday Games

Big Ten Football

The 2014 Big Ten football season is finally here, and like everyone else, I too am ready to pretend I actually know a thing or two about Rutgers and Maryland football now. There is room in my brain since I have already forgotten which teams were in the Leaders division and which were in the Legends. I may never forget that’s what the two divisions were called.

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.

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.

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.