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


I turned on the radio yesterday on the way to work, and on KFAN the guys on the morning show were talking about Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski's ankle. I have heard enough about Rob Gronkowski's ankle for the rest of my life, so I attempted to get away from the conversation by switching over to MPR News, and dadgummit if they weren't ALSO talking about Rob Gronkowski's ankle. On public radio! It is inescapable. It is everywhere. I spent all day in fear that my phone would ring and the conversation would be about ankles of any kind.

The strange thing is, Super Bowl coverage has always been like this; there have been jokes about three-day pregame shows for literally my entire life. But football, the NFL in particular, has become so insanely popular, and sports media so insanely available, that it's starting to feel like there's just now one year-round NFL pregame show going on. I'll bet the biggest story in the post Super Bowl glow isn't about spring training, or the NBA or NHL; I bet it's about Peyton Manning and where he might end up. Football in America has become like hockey in Canada, and I don't know if that's a good thing or not. I just know that I'm ready for something else. (Also, I hope Terry Bradshaw doesn't turn into Don Cherry.)

On with the links:

It's Super Bowl weekend, so we need to start with a football link. Here goes: Every once in awhile you'll hear a story about how a significant number of Americans cannot tell you how many moons Earth has, or cannot name the president or correctly state how many limbs they are in possession of. And you will think to yourself, "Gosh, just who are these Americans?"At that moment, remember that more than 11 million people watched the Pro Bowl, surely the worst football game played above Pop Warner level this year, and realize just how many of these people are out there.

*Twins links of the week: John Bonnes has some answers about the Twins' confusing $15 million drop in payroll, just two years into the team's tenancy in the stadium that was supposed to ensure the Twins could compete financially with the rest of the league. Second, Parker Hageman examines the hitch in Danny Valencia's swing, and wonders if its elimination might lead to a return to 2010 form for the third baseman.

*David Roth at The Classical looks at Bill Raftery, the best of all the color guys in college hoops.

*Also at The Classical, Jay Sacher - not a hockey fan - heads over to check out his town's AHL team, and discovers (and illustrates) a different sporting experience that he's used to.

And finally: The last time I played Wiffle ball, the challenge involved swinging a bat that weights about four grams. Apparently these days in big-time Wiffle ball, the real difficulty is coming up with the most annoyingly, tauntingly boisterous celebration you can manage.

That's enough for this week. I've always said that the Super Bowl is the secular Christmas, so get out there and enjoy it. Eat four pounds of cheese. Let's keep America great. (Oh, and according to ESPN, every one of us has to drink twelve beers, too, so get ready for tomorrow.)

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