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


A happy (and snowy) Saturday to you all. This is what, our fourth or fifth snowstorm already this year? And it's not even close to Christmas yet? Now toss in the mid-January cold we've been having, and I'm starting to think we're on track for one of those winters. You know the ones. We always had them, back when we were kids, but nowadays we never seem to have them - you know what I mean. (This claim works whether you were born in 1980, 1950, or 1890. Every generation exasperates its parents, but also doesn't get winters like we used to have, at least according to the parents.)

Two weeks' worth of links to get through, so here we go:

*If you missed David La Vaque's story about kids trying to make the hockey team at Hill-Murray, go read it now, because I think it's fascinating. And if you're horrified by the unforgiving nature of prep hockey in Minnesota, then read this (admittedly months-old) New York Times story about the Ajax soccer club youth system, and know: it could be more unforgiving.

*Sticking with soccer, I'm not sure whether I find this news from Inside Minnesota Soccer about former Minnesota Thunder owner Dean Johnson hilarious, or enraging. Johnson bought the Thunder a few years ago, then ended up folding the team while owing pretty much everyone involved - players, employees, vendors, etc. - huge sums of money. Now he's trying to invest in a third-division Belgium club, one that's calling him "Saint Nicolas" because of his promises to pump cash into the team. If I had more space, I'd insert a parody of "'Twas The Night Before Christmas" here, where Santa would crash on the couch, run up huge long-distance phone bills, stay until October, then eventually burn all the furniture and total the car and let his reindeer poop on the lawn.

*The MLS Cup got horrible television ratings, the worst the MLS championship game has ever had. This is partially because it was up against Sunday Night Football, partially because it was between about the seventh- and eighth-best teams in the league and had none of the league's biggest stars - and yes, partially because it's soccer. Still, I want to focus on the following sentences from the Sports Media Watch blog: "Even with the low numbers, the MLS Cup still outdrew ESPN's two-game coverage of the 2010 WNBA Finals. Additionally, the telecast drew more viewers than every IndyCar race and every NHL regular season game ever on Versus." It's hard to write a comparative paragraph in which four different leagues come out looking like unmitigated losers, but there you have it.

And finally: Bernard-Henry Lévy on rugby. Steve Rushin on the Vikings. Further explanation is probably not needed.

That's it for this week; stay warm out there. (This would be even easier if "out there" was, say, Arizona. I'm just saying.)

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