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


I write a lot about the community aspect of being a sports fan, in part because of my first experience with live sports: Ortonville High School sporting events. Ortonville played in about 98% of the sporting events I attended before I left for college, and virtually all of the football games, and by now, time and selective memory have crystallized these Friday night clashes into the perfect sporting experience.

In my memory, the whole town showed up for the games; you could have walked down the center of Main Street, firing off pistols like Yosemite Sam, and nobody would have cared or indeed noticed. Back in those days, before the new track was installed, you could park your car at the edge of the football field and watch from there - an inexpressible luxury for a young boy, because it meant you could warm up, listen to the radio broadcast, AND honk the horn after touchdowns. At halftime, kids of a certain age were allowed on the field to participate in what was less of an actual football game and more of a rolling maul of children; every so often, hats or gloves or the occasional third-grader would be thrown wildly from the pile, but it was otherwise a happy riot of kids beating each other up on the 30-yard-line.

Of course, this probably isn't what it was like at all. Half the town probably had better things to do, and it's telling that I can't remember the final score of a single game. But I keep searching for this experience, from all sports. I'm trying to find the one that best approximates the feeling of being out on a Friday night, surrounded by all of your friends and most of the rest of the town. We're watching our guys take on the heathens from the next town over, and if we're lucky, later we'll get some popcorn from the concessions stand.

I've yet to find it. But I keep trying. And if any local sports team, professional, college, or prep, is willing to let me pull up a car to the edge of their field and watch the game from there, I am willing to pay handsomely for the privilege.

*On with the links:

*For those of us who are hoping that the Twins will put a minor-league affiliate in St. Paul, here's a great explanation from Jim Crikket of the Knuckleballs blog of why that's not going to happen anytime soon.

*Bloge Salming and Down Goes Brown have collaborated to get you the outtakes from the NHLPA's message to fans. That's the hardest I've laughed about the NHL lockout since I saw the owners' first proposal.

*Matthew Callan at The Classical remembers the 1999 baseball umpires' strike, which ended up going almost opposite the way the NFL ref lockout did.

*Will Leitch at Sports on Earth writes about how Steve Spurrier is going to kill sports journalism. No, seriously.

*Over at Canis Hoopus, writer Oceanary looks at the new faces on the Timberwolves this year.

*And finally: Here's Eli Manning, staring at a lawnmower for no reason.