The English Premier League has never been more popular stateside, especially now that NBC Sports is showing every game of the season in one format or another. TV ratings nearly doubled for the opening weekend, compared to last year, and three-quarters of a million people watched Swansea City and Manchester United on NBC - more people than watched several NHL games on NBC last season.

New people who are getting into the league quite naturally feel the need to pick a favorite team, something NBC Sports did its best to play up. This does, however, tend to lead to something I can't quite figure out: fans that have adopted the rivalries of their new favorite teams. You need go no farther than Twitter, or really any message board where soccer fans congregate, to find Americans - with no connection whatsoever to any kind of local rivalry - abusing each other as a result of these long-held grudges.

When you think about it, this makes no sense. Obviously, local rivals - say, Manchester City and Manchester United - have a long. contentious history. But that contention has been caused by proximity, by the experience of a City fan that's grown to hate United fans because he's been surrounded by them at school and at work and so forth. It's no different than Vikings fans and Packers fans in Minnesota; there wouldn't be a rivalry if there weren't Packers fans around, fulfilling their apparent destiny as the most annoying group of people on Earth.

I know you're out there, Premier League fans. I understand that you quite naturally want to be as big of a fan as you can be, and that this may, in your mind, mean adopting the traditional rivalries of your club, but this makes no sense. Be a big of a fan as you want, but unless somehow you've become (for example) an Everton fan that's lost in a sea of Liverpool supporters, leave the rivalries alone. Making fun of someone else for a rivalry that you're not part of doesn't hurt their feelings - it just makes you look like a moron.

*On with the links:

*At Twins Daily, Nick Nelson looks at the future of Twins catching prospect Josmil Pinto, whose development seems all the more important in the wake of Joe Mauer's concussion.

* You really need to read Wright Thompson's profile of Dan Gable.

*Chris Brown explains the reads that quarterbacks need to make in the modern-day passing game. (Basically: things are a lot more complicated these days than they used to be.)

*Also from Twins Daily, and Cody Christie, the kind of crazy speculation I like: could the Twins re-sign Johan Santana this year?

*And finally: Lourawls Nairn. There aren't enough exclamation points in the world for that name. (And his nickname is Tum Tum!)

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