White Sox fans getting restless too

The Star Tribune’s Joe Christensen had a couple of notes of interest at the end of a blog post Saturday.

He mentioned that the Chicago White Sox haven’t done much this offseason either, other than signing Cuban third baseman Dayan Viciedo. Their fans are getting restless, too, as the White Sox trim payroll in a tough economy.

The Amercan League Central is definitely up for grabs if any team really wants to make a push for it. So far, the division’s top two teams from a year ago have done little to stake claim as preseason favorites.

The White Sox have lost a lot of contributors from last season’s division championship team, many of them aging veterans who were past their prime. Nevertheless, somebody has to replace them, though.

Christensen also said that the Minnesota Twins new ad should be on some time during the Super Bowl. It’s called "Trucks" and features the Target Field construction site.

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Super Bowl prediction time

After two weeks of nonstop pregame coverage, the Super Bowl is finally upon us at 5:28 p.m. tomorrow.

Predictions really haven’t been my cup of tea, as I’ve proven on this blog in the past. But I feel confident in this one.

The Arizona Cardinals are the NFL’s hottest team. They sport an explosive passing offense behind a quarterback whose "path to the NFL" story never gets old. The grocery-store bagger turned Arena Football League QB turned Super Bowl QB.

And when you consider that this franchise and its fans have suffered through many lean years, it’s hard not to cheer for them. I’ll be rooting for them.

However, this is a bad matchup for the Cards. Heck, it’s a bad matchup for any NFL offense.

The Pittsburgh Steelers sport the NFL’s best pass defense and second-best run defense (second only to your Minnesota Vikings).

Now, we know what happened when the Cards faced the Vikes. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same thing happened tomorrow.

I think the Cards will pass the ball with some effectiveness, but you’re not going to beat a defense like the Steelers if you can’t run.

Arizona was dead last in the NFL in rush yards per game this season, averaging a meager 3.5 yards per carry. Matching up with the Steelers doesn’t seem like a good way for a team to get that rushing offense going.

I’m hoping for a great game, but I fear it might not be. If Pittsburgh puts Arizona in an early hole, things could really spiral downward for Arizona.

My prediction: Steelers 34, Cardinals 14.

Anyone else have any predictions for The Big Game?

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Honolulu faces Pro Bowl blackout

It’s been reported this week that the Pro Bowl could be blacked out in Honolulu if the remaining 5,000 tickets are not sold 72 hours prior to Feb. 8.

This is amusing. I understand blacking out regular-season games, but an All-Star game? Really?

I don’t think any league does more to keep its fans away than the NFL, although the NHL has done a good job since signing that contract with Versus. I think the blackout policy is really a head-scratcher.

If a league where its teams have eight home games a season can’t sell out a regular-season game – or an All-Star game for that matter – doesn’t that mean there might be something wrong with the viewing experience. It really shouldn’t be that difficult to sell out an NFL game, whether it be regular-season, postseason or All-Star game.

Maybe the NFL should look at itself rather than preventing fans from looking at it.

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Chargers take closer look at L.A.

For the concerned Minnesota Vikings fans, this news may help ease your concerns.

The San Diego Chargers have hired a Los Angeles-based marketing firm to drum up fan interest in the team from the Los Angeles area.

It would be a huge leap to say this is the first step in the Chargers moving to Los Angeles, but we might be able to look back and say it was.

The Vikings have been rumored to be a possible tenant for the new stadium that Ed Roski hopes to build in Industry, Calif., bolting the Metrodome for the California sun.

The Chargers and Vikings have been trying to get new stadiums built for them with taxpayer money. The Chargers, though, are able to announce a move as soon as Super Bowl Sunday, according to the above L.A. Times story. Their lease is up, while the Vikings are tied to Minneapolis through the 2011 season.

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Twins walk away from Gagne

The Minnesota Twins have decided not to pursue relief pitcher and former NL Cy Young Award winner Eric Gagne, despite a report that Gagne was prepared to agree to the Twins’ terms.

The Star Tribune’s Joe Christensen writes the Twins have decided to review their trade options rather than sign the veteran reliever.

This is an interesting decision. The story says the contract was for $3 million with $500,000 in incentives. I thought the incentive number would be much higher. Seems like a pretty modest deal by major league standards. I’m a little surprised the Twins just walked away, but maybe I shouldn’t be considering they haven’t done anything this offseason.

It makes me wonder if the Twins are close to making a trade, or who they might be talking to or thinking of talking to.

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Bison add two recruits

We got some late-breaking news at The Forum tonight.

We found out at about 10:45 p.m. that wide receiver Nicalaus Powell-Calhoun, a 6-foot-4 senior wide receiver from Segerstrom High School in Santa Ana, Calif., had verbally commited to North Dakota State’s football team.

He joins Sam Ojuri, a senior running back from an Illinois high school, as commitments.

Nights like this get to be pretty wild, interviewing a coach and player as late as we did. Fortunately, they were in California, which doesn’t make you feel as guilty about calling someone at that time since they’re two hours behind us.

And this is journalism. That’s what gets your adrenaline flowing.

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Not again

It looks like we have another offseason of Brett Favre-to-Vikings rumors to deal with. At least, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King floated that possibility on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption yesterday.

Favre’s value is much lower this offseason than it was last offseason. I would be surprised to see him end up with the Vikings.

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Georgia could pursue Tubby

The following was the final note in a college basketball notebook by Yahoo’s Jason King:

• The feeling in Georgia is that the 2008-09 season will be the last for coach Dennis Felton, and some folks are hoping that Minnesota’s Tubby Smith will return to Athens. It will be interesting to see if the Bulldogs’ administration attempts to court Smith, who is doing great things with a Gophers program that has loads of potential.

I heard University of Minnesota AD Joel Maturi say Friday on KFAN that there are limits to how much the administration will be able to pay Smith should another school pursue him after this season.

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Cuddy to third not a good idea

The Star Tribune’s Jim Souhan writes that he thinks moving infielder-turned-outfielder Michael Cuddyer to third base is an obvious move the Minnesota Twins must make.

I’m not so sure about this. I understand the reasoning, but this has been done before with no success.

It’s safe to assume that Cuddyer has only regressed as a defensive player with age. He’s got a good arm, but I think ground balls would eat him alive at third. Maybe if the Twins weren’t still on the Metrodome’s turf, he would have something else going for him.

And whether anyone wants to admit it or not, Cuddyer has been a better hitter as an outfielder. Do I understand why guys like Cuddyer or Rondell White – or as I call him, RonDL – hit better playing one position than another? Of course not. But they do/did.

I still think the Twins’ best option to improve third base and resolve the glut of outfielders they have is through trade. Cuddyer is not an infielder. That much has been established.

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