Jon Marthaler bakes up a batch of delicious links just for you. Other times, you can find him here and here. Jon?


Happy Saturday! Have you sweated through every shirt you own yet? Yes, it's truly been the worst week of the summer outside. August in Minnesota: the one thing that reminds us why we don't all move to Florida. I have spent the week cursing at televised weatherpersons - especially the Pocket Rocket himself, Sven Sundgaard - but they all say it'll be better by this time tomorrow. I can't wait.

And now that our state-mandated conversation-opening talk about the weather is over, on with the links!

*Just for the heck of it, let's start this week with soccer, which the New York Times thinks is getting more popular in the USA. It's nice to know, I guess, that the august New York Times can still be a good eight years late on this story. Seriously, everyone: it's not a fad. Soccer's not a major sport in America, but it's here to stay, solidly in that second tier of sports in this country, no matter what the New York Times or anybody else thinks.

*And on to hockey: Kevin Kurtt of Let's Play Hockey has an in-depth look at the state of the Gopher puck team. This is your two-month hockey warning -- it's barely 50 days until the Gophers get their season underway, so I suggest getting limbered up now.

*In baseball news, Denard Span hasn't been doing much of anything - and so Parker Hageman explores the center fielder's struggles at the plate. Friday night, with a runner on second and no outs, the Twins had the two batters in front of Span bunt the runner in. Those batters were Alexi Casilla and Drew Butera, so I suppose that's about the best the team could have hoped for out of those two spots, but still -- didn't look like anyone was counting on Span to get a hit.

*And finally: the SportsCenter singularity is much nearer. ESPN will now have a live SportsCenter on ESPN or ESPNews for fifteen hours a day. Now, maybe you're like me, and you remember when SportsCenter showed game highlights for an hour straight, and you're thinking, "Hey, this sounds pretty good!" Well, things have changed. Now, they pick out three stories and run them on a continuous loop, followed by a highlight, followed by the three stories again, all from slightly different angles. It's maddening, and now, from 9 a.m. to midnight, you'll be able to catch this yelling-with-your-head-in-a-bucket cacophony somewhere on an ESPN network. Not sports. Not highlights of sports. Something else entirely. Cue the soft weeping.

That's enough for this week - although if it's more Rand you're looking for, I interviewed him for this article about Major League Soccer in Minnesota. I pretended to be a journalist, he pretended to be a source - it was good fun.

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Monday (Social media at the Twins game) edition: Wha' Happened?