Okay Wild fans it’s that time of year. The time of year where we look at our roster, put on a brave face, and convince ourselves that this team can win a playoff series. Will it happen? Almost certainly not, but Marian Gaborik ain’t walking through that door any time soon, so we might as well reach deep into our hearts and minds and force ourselves to believe that we have enough talent up front to be a relevant NHL team in the 2018-2019 season. Is our top returning goal scorer turning 34 this month? Maybe he is, maybe he’s not. Age is just a number. Is the average age of our top two centers over 34? See above answer. Do we have almost exactly the same team we’ve had for the last six years? The team that has made it to the playoffs each of those last six years and won two playoff series? More or less, yes we do. None of this sounds good on paper, but as Minnesota Sports Fans it is our duty to ignore all signs of disaster and forge ahead with the most positive, if not delusional outlook we can manage. The general consensus amongst hockey pundits and fans is that the Wild will be one of, if not the, most boring team this year–and honestly, I don’t disagree. There is nothing about the Wild that screams “must watch.” Their best players aren’t exactly show stoppers. The closest things they have to gamebreakers are probably Zucker and Granlund and there are about 15 guys in the Central Division alone that I’d rather watch in a vacuum than those two. I don’t think anyone is paying top dollar to watch Koivu and Staal slow the game down (although Stubhub shows otherwise) and Suter might be the hardest top tier defensemen to watch in NHL history. It’s the same goddamn team they’ve trotted out for the last six years for christ’s sake. Sure those six years have all been playoff years but there is absolutely nothing about this team that should make anyone expect a legitimate playoff run this year. That being said, the Wild should be competitive in a very deep Central division. They don’t have the dynamic players that some of the top end teams have but they have a shit ton of depth at forward and defense and they’re experienced in terms of regular season success, so who the hell knows. They only thing I know for sure is that it’s going to be a long, long season, regardless of whether it ends after 82 games, or like 87 games… Continue reading A Non Model Based Minnesota Wild Season Preview
The short answer to that question is yes, yes Winter is by far the grittiest month. The reason this question is being posed in the first place is because we in the northern states are currently getting fisted by Winter even though we are technically over a week into Spring. Winter is scratching and clawing well out of its jurisdiction for every inch it can. Winter is the Matthew Dellavedova of seasons. Diving for loose balls on the floor. Playing lockdown D. Not letting Spring get any unearned space towards the basket. Winter has a wide base in the paint, boxing Spring out of any rebounds on both ends of the floor. Winter is at the bottom of every post-fumble dogpile this side of the Mason Dixon line. Winter is the late round pick that the coaching staff just can’t ignore any longer. It’s worked its ass off in the off-season workouts, routinely making the sexier, more talented seasons look foolish in practice. At first the coaches could write it off as the high drafted seasons of Summer and Spring simply having off days. Winter wanted it more in practice, sure, but when the games counted, the talent of the warmer seasons would shine through. Not the case. Continue reading Freelance Friday: Is Winter the Grittiest Season?
The title pretty much says it all, but if you don’t like the Olympics, I don’t trust you as a person. I love the Olympics. Always have and always will. There’s something about the whole production of the greatest event in sports that just gets me. I love the pageantry of the opening and closing ceremonies. I love the puff pieces about the athletes informing you how much they’ve had to struggle as they strive for the pinnacle of a sport I just learned the rules of. I love the excitement when they attain the pinnacle of that sport. I love the tears when they don’t. I love getting way too into a sport that I know nothing about, pretending I’m an expert for a few days while really having the loosest of grasps on what’s actually happening, and then completely forgetting it exists for four years. It’s just the best and if you can’t get on board, you have a serious dump in your pants.
Continue reading Freelance Friday: If You Don’t Like The Olympics You’re A Loser And Possibly A Communist
Being left-handed in the game of basketball, along with most other sports, doesn’t come with the same advantage that it does in the baseball world. At least in terms of strategy it doesn’t – but if you ask me, there are few things in this world as aesthetically pleasing as a fundamental left-handed jump shot, and I’m beyond certain CEO Marc would tell you the same thing. Perhaps I’m biased as someone that has a dominant left hand, but something about the quirkiness and funk of a lefty’s game is a thing of beauty, but unfortunately goes underappreciated by the average fan.
Continue reading Freelance Friday: The NBA’s Forgotten Lefties
Every Groundhog day I like to think that Punxsutawney Phil is essentially every one of us who has put off a long-term project too long and wakes up on the due date in a cold sweat and scrambles to finish it. Like Groundhogs day snuck up on him again and he has to wing it. This is more or less how I picture that going…. Continue reading Freelance Friday: Punxsutawney Phil
Let’s Talk Chicken
I understand that this company/website is generally a sports-centric type of enterprise. As of today, I don’t believe we have had any posts that have not, in some way, related to sports. I like sports. You like sports. We all like sports. That being said, after the debacle that was the Minnesota Vikings NFC Championship shellacking, I have zero interest in talking about sports. Absolutely none. The Vikes took my heart from my chest, stomped on it, sent it through a blender, drank it with a mixture of yogurt, frozen berries, and kale (healthy), pissed it out, and flushed it down a toilet… as is tradition. With that in mind I’d like to talk instead about another topic which has been weighing heavily on my mind. Yes, I’m talking chicken, folks. Specifically I’m talking the fast food chicken powerhouses of Chick-fil-A and Raising Cane’s.
As is the case with most organizations that are jockeying for the same market space (looking at you Chipotle and Qdoba), people have drawn a hard line in the sand on which of these two chicken tycoons they support. Until just recently, I myself was a firm Chick-fil-A backer. This is probably because I had never had Cane’s but that’s really neither here nor there. Over the past three weeks my eyes have been opened to the brilliance that is Raising Cane’s chicken fingers and it’s put my entire worldview in a blender. I started questioning everything I’ve ever known about chicken. I ate Cane’s for lunch 7 of 10 work days during the Vikings playoff run and was beginning to forget about Chick-fil-A altogether. Last Friday, just when I was ready to walk out on my long term chicken girlfiend, Chick-fil-A slipped on a little black number and reminded me why I fell in love in the first place. This put my brain in a pretzel. Can a man have two chicken loves? Which comes first? Which is my rock and which is my side chicken? There was really only one option: line them up and break down their strengths and weaknesses based on all of the important categories. So without further ado, let’s talk chicken.
This is a big win for Cane’s and to be honest, it better be. The chicken strips are where Cane’s makes their money. I’ve never really been a big chicken fingers/strips/nuggets guy, always preferred burgers and such, but the chicken strips at Cane’s are about as good as you can make solitary chicken. Crispy, juicy, tender. It has all the tangibles and intangibles you look for in a chicken strip. And this isn’t knock on Chick-fil-A either. Those little nuggets are quite the treat, but that’s just it: they’re a treat. I view the Chick-fil-A nuggets as essentially a side dish. They’re for after I finish my sandwich and I still have some sauce that needs a vessel. No way they can compete with the juggernaut that is Cane’s chicken strips.
Again this one is pretty easy. Chick-fil-A has the best chicken sandwich I have ever eaten. Period. When Chick-fil-A was first introduced to me, I was very skeptical. “How good can a chicken sandwich be?” I thought. What a fool I was. The bun. The patty. The pickle. It’s all perfect. Just as the Cane’s chicken fingers check all the chicken related boxes, the Chick-fil-A sandwich hits every important note. Incredible. The Cane’s sandwich is good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s out of its depth when competing with the Chick-fil-A sandwich. The only thing that could even hold a candle to the Chick-fil-A sandwich is splitting the texas toast from Cane’s in half and sticking a chicken strip between the two pieces for a makeshift sandwich but I’m talking texas toast in the sides portion of this blog so that concoction is disqualified from the sandwich discussion.
So this is where things start to get a little tricky. Both restaurants offer some pretty convincing arguments when we start to look at the sides. In one corner you have Cane’s bringing a loaded arsenal of texas toast, coleslaw, and fries. In the other corner Chick-fil-A counters with waffle fries, milkshakes, and, if you are like me, the chicken nuggets. For the sanctity of this argument I’ll remove the chicken nuggets from the table since I already talked about them in the strips/fingers/nuggets section. Texas toast is the best side on the board here, I think that much is clear, but the Cane’s coleslaw is also top notch. I generally substitute the coleslaw for two slices of the toast but there are certainly days where the coleslaw tickles my fancy. While Cane’s may have the best individual side on the menu, Chick-fil-A’s waffle fries blow Canes’ generic frozen Oneda style fries out of the water. Add in the shake option at Chick-fil-A and things start to get a little closer. I’m still going to give the edge to Cane’s because the texas toast is maybe the best fast food side on the market today.
This is the big one. Winner of the sauce battle gets a HUGE advantage in the overall “Who does fast food chicken better” argument. Both restaurants have staunch, and I mean staunch, backers of their respective sauces. I’ll admit I am a fan of both sauces, although they are far from similar. My first couple of dips of the Cane’s sauce left me uncertain of how I felt about the savory cup of goo. It’s almost overpowering. Kind of has that “make the back of your jaw seize up” type of flavor. It hits hard. Once I got my bearings it grew on me. It’s a great chicken dipping sauce, my only issue with it is it’s not versatile enough. I finished my chicken and went to try to dip my fries and was shocked to find it didn’t do it for me. I had had enough of the Cane’s sauce and there was still some left in the container. It’s a great first 5 minutes of chicken inhalation sauce but it doesn’t hold out for the entire meal. This is where Chick-fil-A has a major advantage. Chick-fil-A chicken, as good as it is on its own, might as well be just a wehical for Chick-fil-A sauce. I could drink that sauce on its own and I don’t actually think I’m joking. It’s good with the sandwich, the nuggets, the fries… there is nothing that the Chick-fil-A sauce doesn’t make better. It’s damn near perfect.
This basically comes down to two things: Chick-fil-A serves breakfast but Cane’s is open on Sunday. Let’s start with the breakfast. If you’ve never had Chick-fil-A’s breakfast before, get your ass out of bed and get to the nearest Chick-fil-A before 10:30 AM. It is maybe the best breakfast, fast food or otherwise, I’ve had. The Chicken biscuit, egg and cheese biscuit, and chicken minnies are all absolutely top notch breakfast options (and once again all viable options to be smothered in Chick-fil-A sauce). It’s one of the better food experiences I’ve ever had and would only be made better if I could enter this type of breakfast Valhalla on Sunday. Which brings me to my next point: Chick-fil-A being closed on Sundays is one of the larger American tragedies of the 21st century. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten myself excited for Chick-fil-A only to have my dreams crushed by the Lord’s day. The best ability is availability and Cane’s gets a huge intangible advantage just by being available 7 days a week. Just when you think Chick-fil-A is going to pull ahead, they close their doors on Sunday. This one’s a wash in my opinion.
Overall Winner: Chick-Fil-A
To me, the overall chicken of both restaurants is essentially a tie. Cane’s has the advantage in their chicken fingers but nobody does a chicken sandwich like Chick-fil-A. Chick-fil-A distances itself in the my competition in its sauce dominance. There are few sauces or condiments (chipotle sour cream being another one) that I would very honestly drink on their own. That’s a difference maker. That kind of performance wins championships, or in this case, my personal ranking system as it regards to fast food chicken.
Welcome aboard the second edition of Model 284’s Freelance Friday! This week, I’ll be reliving some of the greatest Minnesota sports moments our generation has witnessed (spoiler: there aren’t many) to see how they stack up with the Minneapolis Miracle that graced us this past Sunday. If you missed out on Fred’s inaugural piece on the trials and tribulations of being a Minnesota sports fan last week, I’d suggest that you grab a few tissues and check it out here. Fred’s article could not have come at a more appropriate time, just days before the Vikings’ first playoff game since the Blair-Walsh-Blunder in 2015 that added yet another heartbreak to the lengthy list of Minnesota sports disappointments.
Continue reading The Minneapolis Miracle – The Greatest Minnesota Sports Moment of our Generation?
Hello and welcome to the very first installment of Freelance Friday here at Model 284. In an effort to try to encourage the production of more creative content for our readers to enjoy, some of us will be embarrassing ourselves via the written word once a week through this platform. The powers that be at Model 284 have given us the green light to write about pretty much anything we want in these Friday installations and I could think of no better way to kick this off than to try my best to explain what it’s like to be a Minnesota sports fan. With the Vikings entering the playoffs after an unforgettable 13-3 regular season as the Vegas favorite to represent the NFC in what would be a home Super Bowl, I felt there was no time like the present to discuss some of the things that make being a Minnesota sports fan so unique, terrible, confusing, infuriating, soul crushing, etc. Continue reading Freelance Friday: Being a Minnesota Sports Fan