The Latest from Erik Ritland

Posted October 11, 2015 by Erik Ritland
Categories: Pro Football

Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He was also Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blogs Hometown Hustle and Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via emailor find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Hello all,

This is an intimate message from the Ritland Rambler himself, one Erik Ritland.

I’ve been writing blogs under some semblance of the Rambling On name since 2012. It started with a weekly run of several articles (in a newspaper type format) in January and February 2012. I quickly ran out of funding to keep it going, and after a second attempt in the summer I had to reconsider my direction.

Throughout 2013 I wrote a few blogs under the Music, Sports, and Sunday Ramble names. Finally in April 2014 I launched the latest version of Rambling On, a regular blog and podcast, that I’ve been running ever since.

Speaking of, Rambling On is seriously fun commentary on sports, music, culture, and more. I encourage you to check it out.

I’ve kept each of the former incarnations/incantations of my rambles up for the sake of archive. Enjoy them but be sure to check out the latest and greatest stuff at http://www.ramblingon.net.

Erik Ritland Archive Sites

Rambling On (original series)
The original run of seriously fun commentary on sports, music, culture, and more. Archived winter and summer 2012.

Music Ramble
Longer articles about music of all kinds. Archived from 2012-2014.

Sports Ramble   Local and national sports coverage. Mainly baseball and football related but some commentary on hockey and basketball as well. Archived from 2012-2014.

Ritland Ramble
Erik’s former culture blog. Society, politics, current events, and more. Archived from 2012-2014.

Sunday Ramble
Religious commentary. Archived from 2012-2013.

Daily Ramble
Daily blogs covering sports, music, culture, and more from January 2014.

The Weekly Ritland
Short-lived site that linked to each article I had posted for that week. Archived September 2012.

Main Ramble
Articles about politics and culture from the original run of Rambling On in 2012. Archived fall 2012.

Football Ramble
Commentary on the first few weeks of the 2012 football season. Another project that ran out of funding. Archived fall 2012.

Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He was also Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blogs Hometown Hustle and Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via emailor find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Randy Moss, the Seattle Seahawks, and Troublemakers

Posted November 14, 2013 by Erik Ritland
Categories: Pro Football

Tags: , , , ,

Rambling On is a seriously fun blog and podcast covering sports, music, culture, and more. Check us out on Twitter, Facebook, or at our website.

My boy...

My boy…

You know who I hate? The Seattle Seahawks.

Okay, so I don’t care about them so much that they illicit hate in me, but you know what I mean.

The two most annoying things about them are their coach Pete Carroll and their fans. The former is a loud, annoying whiner and the latter are arrogant and unrealistic. You built a stadium whose dimensions make you sound really loud, we’re happy for ya. Architecture (and that you are always yelling for no reason) doesn’t make you the best fans in the NFL. Your team might be one of the best in the league but they’re still under-performing this year. And Russell Wilson isn’t all that impressive either.

Then there’s Percy Harvin. How acrimoniously he left the Vikings has received too little press. He milked injuries, wasn’t a team player, and treated the Vikings organization poorly and disrespectfully. Yet he hardly gets any heat for it.

It doesn’t make any sense that he isn’t called out for his negative actions as much as a troublemaker like, say, Randy Moss was. Moss was a better player and his antics were always hilarious and super cool. He only received so much criticism because he was upfront about his bad attitude. He didn’t hide it and tell people what they wanted to hear. He was real. Harvin is not only a phony but he’s also a bigger jerk. Why he’s gone by essentially unscathed by Vikings fans and Minnesota media is beyond me.

It’s worth noting, to me at least, that I promised a friend that I’d write an article about this idea of mine for some time. This is probably the closest I’ll ever get to doing that. So sorry, Evelyn.

Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via emailor find him on Facebook and Twitter.

2012 NFL Week Seven

Posted October 23, 2012 by Erik Ritland
Categories: Pro Football

Vikings-Cardinals

Get your head back in the game, handsome.

Fan and media analysis of  this game is about the only thing more boring than the game itself. It’s barely even worth talking about. Arizona played all game like they wanted the Vikings to win and their response seemed to be “Aw, that’s sweet, but no thanks.” In short, it was hard to watch.

The Vikings offense played like absolute garbage (except Adrian) against a very average Arizona defense. Ponder looked like a young second year quarterback who didn’t really know what he was doing. He’ll have games like that though. Just because he’s had poor performances over the past few weeks doesn’t mean he’ll be a bad quarterback in the long run. But his inexperience will certainly hinder the Vikings 2012 campaign. Defensively the Vikings played as well as they should have against a Jake Skelton-run Arizona Cardinals.

Most people, Vikings fans and members of the sports media alike, realize that the game Sunday was ugly. The Vikings largely have the Cardinals to thank for their victory. I know I’ve said that most weeks the Vikings have won but it’s true. Have the 49ers played as poorly all season as they did against them? Not even close. The Lions have looked better and the Titans have even won two games fairly impressively since their loss against them.

That the Vikings were able to take advantage of the turds laid against them, though, is still impressive. But they’re going to have to put up far better efforts if they’re going to want to win any games once their schedule gets tough after the bye.

News and Notes
–          Is RGIII Overrated? Last week when the Redskins beat the Vikings I was inundated with sports talk radio and ESPN saying stuff like “in case you doubted it RGIII is the real deal.” Really? I still doubt it. How can you say something like that so early in his career? Because he beat up on a wishy-washy, average-at-best Vikings defense? Come on. I’m sure he’ll become a good quarterback but he hasn’t proven anything that, say, Cam Newton hasn’t. It’s all just hype for a story at this point. Time will tell whether he’ll fulfill his early glimpses of promise.
–          The Packers come alive Finally some life has come back into the Packers. Rodgers is playing as well as he used to and the rest of the team is following suit. Most importantly they’re actually playing like they want to win games. The injury to Charles Woodson cripples an already shaky defense but hopefully they can keep up this hot streak and leave their early season woes behind them.

Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

2012 NFL Week Five

Posted October 8, 2012 by Erik Ritland
Categories: Pro Football

Vikings Ramble

I haven’t gotten too much grief from my friends considering that my Packers are 2-3 and the Vikings are 3-1. But I’m glad; maybe people understand that I still love the Vikings. Watching them do well this season reminds me of my childhood when football analysts would always predict the Vikings would finish last in the NFC Central and they’d always make the playoffs. It’s been a fun ride, with or without my 84 jersey.

The Vikings win against the 49ers was impressive but fluke-y. They beat a great team that had a bad day. The difference between a bad Vikings team and the decent one this year is that they were able to take advantage of it and win handily. The victory against the Lions was somewhat tainted because the Vikings offense didn’t score any points; it was all field goals and special teams. But our defense shut down the Lions potent offense as it had the 49ers the week before, making it seem more like a trend than a mirage.

Then came the Vikings utter destruction of the feeble Tennessee Titans. Seriously, will this Titan team win another game all year? If Jack Locker doesn’t come back I sincerely doubt it. Even if he does I still wouldn’t be surprised. To look that bad against this years Vikings team ought to make them feel awful.

There’s still something to be said for the Vikings being able to take advantage of the situation, something worse Vikings teams in years past would not have been able to do. The positives from the last three weeks are endless: Blair Walsh is a stud, our defensive line is stellar, our defensive backs are better than expected, Christian Ponder is growing exponentially, and Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson are, well, Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson.

I haven’t completely come around to thinking that the Vikings will be a great team this year. But I’m starting to. The more their wins start piling up the less fluke-y they look, though.

Around the League

The biggest key to the Packers doing better is Rodgers going back to the kick-ass handlebar.

–         No Pack No The Green Bay Packers have been underachieving to the same degree that the Vikings have been overachieving this year. Rodgers hasn’t been great, his receivers constantly drop balls and can’t get open, and their defense, while improved from last year, is still not very good. Their worst problem is the lack of energy – half the time it doesn’t even seem like they’re trying. Hopefully they can bounce back but their playoff hopes slip with each loss.

–         The bad guys won The New Orleans Saints barely beat the San Diego Super Chargers this week to tally their first win. With a lot of help from bad calls from the referees. The regular refs are botching calls at least as much as the replacements, maybe more. That there isn’t any uproar is stupid and shows how sheep mentality rules most sports fans.

Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

2012 NFL Week Four

Posted October 2, 2012 by Erik Ritland
Categories: Pro Football

In This Issue…

1. Vikings Ramble What does the second surprising victory in a row mean for the 2012 Vikings?
2. Around the League  The Saints and Jets lose again, the Cardinals and Rams continue their surprising dominance, and Tom Brady goes crazy.

AD performed well on Sunday but he still couldn’t help the Vikings’ offense get into the end zone.

Vikings Ramble
Last Sunday the Vikings pulled off another surprising victory against the Detroit Lions. Somewhat surprisingly, and quite sadly, it was Leslie Frazier’s first victory against a division opponent. While their win in week 3 over the 49ers was more of an upset there were few people who thought the Vikings could beat the Lions at home. Yet it’s becoming clear that the Lions aren’t very good this year. Considering that, exactly how good can we gauge the 2012 Vikings as being coming off their victory against them?

This isn’t an easy question. Last season the Vikings were a better team than their record indicated. They lost most games at the end and often by under a touchdown. I know, I know, it says something when a team can’t win more than 3 of those games, but, on a whole, they still did not play like a 3-13 team last year.

So far 2012 is the opposite, as the Vikings’ 3-1 record is not reflective of how good they actually are as a team. The 49ers win was impressive because the Vikings played well on both sides of the ball. Yet San Francisco obviously did not play to their potential. They had the game penciled in as a win before they hit the field. The Vikings, however, brought everything they had. That’s not to take anything away from the Vikings; it’s just the truth. Anybody who has watched the 49ers play any other week of the season, not to mention the Vikings in weeks one and two, knows that.

Their win over the Lions would have meant more if they had played as well all-around as they did against the 49ers. But they did not. Ponder looked better than he did in the first two weeks, actually moving the ball okay, but his inability to use the Vikings offensive weapons to get in the end zone is alarming. The defense is playing at a high level but this seems more like a mirage than a trend. I doubt that our defensive backs are good enough to cover receivers that don’t drop the ball and/or have a quarterback that is somewhat mobile in the pocket.

Will the 2012 Vikings continue to over-achieve or will they come back down to earth? I won’t be surprised if they continue to win and play well. They have a good enough team to keep games close if they play to, or surpass, their potential. This year, then, has a chance of being the opposite of last year, with the Vikings’ good record not reflecting how good – or bad – they actually are.

Around the League

Aww, let’s weep for poor Brees-y.

–          Oh! and four This week the lowly New Orleans Saints lost their fourth game in as many weeks. While the Packers didn’t put up much of a fight – wow, are they looking bad this year – they still found a way to lose. Couldn’t happen to a better bunch of obnoxious cheaters. Who dat, Drew Brees? It’s the entire NFL with a better record than your team.

–         The (other) bad guys lost As I predicted last week the 49ers were pissed after their embarrassing loss to the Vikings and absolutely handed it to the Jets 34-0. Where’s your messiah now, Tebow?

–          More surprises The two Cinderella stories of the first four weeks of the young NFL season (other than the Vikings) are the St. Louis Rams and the Arizona Cardinals. The Rams are 3-1 yet could have easily been 4-0 as the Cardinals are. They’ve both beaten some solid teams, too. They play each other on Thursday which will be interesting. Of these three 2012 surprises the Cardinals have the best chance to make a splash in the post-season. The Seahawks are also surprisingly good and deserve mentioning in this group of the surprising stories of the 2012 season.

–          Brady goes crazy As the second half of the Bills-Patriots game began the Bills were winning 21-0. Then, like an angry drunk who has pent-up all his anger and been pushed too far, Brady and the Patriots offense exploded for 52 points. It only took New England 14 quarters but they’ve finally realized that the 2012 football season has begun. I expect they’ll be competitive the rest of the year.

Erik Ritland is a journalist and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His writings on culture, music (including his own projects), sports, religion, and many other topics are cataloged regularly at Ramblin’ On. You can reach him via email here.

 

2012 NFL Week Three

Posted September 25, 2012 by Erik Ritland
Categories: Pro Football

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Vikings Ramble

You know what I always say: never miss an opportunity to post a picture of Jesse Ventura looking pleasantly disheveled.

When Jesse Ventura won the gubernatorial race in Minnesota in 1998 Dan Rather famously said that “The people of Washington could not be more surprised if Fidel Castro came loping across the Midwestern prairie on the back of a hippopotamus.” I’m pretty sure that the people of San Fransisco – and the rest of the world, for that matter –  probably felt the same way when the lowly Minnesota Vikings dominated the 49ers on Sunday.

I had the good fortune of being at Metrodome on Sunday for what was certainly the Vikings best played game since Joe Webb beat Michael Vick and the Eagles on a snowy Tuesday night in 2010. To say that everything went right for the Vikings is misleading; they genuinely played well.

Christian Ponder looked like a seasoned veteran, especially opposite the hapless Alex Smith. He led the Vikings offense in a way Minnesota has not seen in years, somehow keeping the chains moving even with Adrian Peterson being a non-factor. He found his below average receiving core seemingly every time he needed to, especially on third down, in addition to finally being able to use tight end Kyle Rudolph.

The Vikings defense was nearly as impressive. The defensive line kept 49ers running back Frank Gore invisible and Alex Smith so flustered that he couldn’t get anything going. Their secondary didn’t do very well; almost every play Alex smith had an open receiver that he couldn’t find (to his – and the Vikings defensive line’s – credit, he was often too hurried to find them). They did well enough, though, to contain the 49ers fairly talented receivers.

Strap yourself to a tree with roots, Smith: you ain’t going nowhere.

Speaking of the 49ers receivers, Randy Moss was a name that was rarely called during the game. This was not his fault though. Each time Smith threw to him to he was wide open; half the time he wasn’t thrown to he was open, too. There were no less than 4 poorly thrown balls in his direction, one of them in the end zone. It’s easy for everyone in Minnesota to say that Moss doesn’t have it anymore based on his performance Sunday. But had Alex Smith been able to throw a pass Sunday he would have easily had at least a touchdown and about 100 yards receiving.

I haven’t been following San Francisco’s reaction to Sunday’s loss but I imagine it’d be pretty easy for them to play the “we beat ourselves” card. That is half-true, as Alex Smith had an atypically awful game and the strong 49ers defense looked more like a practice squad than an NFL powerhouse. The fact is that the Vikings caught the 49ers sleeping, plain and simple. That, combined with the fact that they brought it in a way that they haven’t in years, led them to an exciting, shocking, dominant victory.

But which team will show up for the Vikings in the coming weeks: the one that made the 49ers look awful or the one that made the Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars look like tough opponents? In order for them to stay competitive this season they better hope for the former more than the latter. And for teams to lay an egg as the 49ers did on Sunday.

Around the league

“The ruling on the field stands”…well, which one?

–         Stumbling Replacements Last Friday I wrote an article defending the replacement referees. I was in the midst of a small minority who held this position; all of us woke up on Monday morning with a bit of egg on our face. Then Monday night happened. The regular refs have made disgraceful calls, from getting coin tosses wrong to missing many blatant calls that have decided games, but in my time and in all the research I’ve done I have never seen something as backwards and chaotic as the end of the Packer-Seahawks game. Seahawk wide receiver Tate blatantly pushes a Packer down, a different Packer gets an interception, Tate grabs it out of his hands once he’s down, and they call it a touchdown for the Seahawks…oh wait, one ref said touchdown, one said touchback. One game can decide a lot – a division title, home field advantage, making the playoffs – and if this game decides anything it will be a disgrace.
–         Yet…yet, it’s not like there haven’t been games decided by blown calls, even recently. In my article last Friday I pointed to two years ago when the Lions blatantly brought down Joe Webb with a facemask on the last play of the game, the penalty wasn’t called, and the game ended. I completely forgot the blown catch call that cost the Lions their first game against the Bears that same year. More than just the blown call, though, Monday’s game was poorly officiated all around in a way I haven’t seen ever, and I’ve always been critical of the refs. I guess we’ll see what happens in the weeks to come but I hope last night wasn’t a sign of things to come.

–         The game itself Amid all the replacement ref hubbub people are overlooking two important things : that the Packers looked horrible and that the Seahawks, while they didn’t look much better, still stayed toe-to-toe with supposedly one of the best teams in the league. After their good performance in a loss to the seemingly unbeatable Cardinals week one, their dominance of the Cowboys last week, and their victory this week begs the question: are the Seahawks a team that can make it deep in to the playoffs, maybe further? I doubt it but it’d sure be a fun story. I’d root for them.
–         Another question: are the Packers really not that good? Aaron Rodgers has been average at best, they have no offensive line or run game, and their defense warbles from very poor (as against the 49ers) to a bit above average. Is it possible that the Packers may not…gulp…even make the playoffs? The odds of that happening are low but if they lose a couple of their next few games it becomes a distinct possibility. This season is shaping up to be an interesting one, eh?

–         Any given Sunday Am I crazy or have there been a lot of upsets so far this season? This week there were several with most of them being pretty shocking: the Vikings over the 49ers, the Seahawks over the Packers*, the Titans over the Lions, Cincinnati over Washington, the Chiefs over the Saints, Arizona over Philadelphia, Jacksonville over Indianapolis at home, and Oakland over Pittsburgh.

–         The mighty Oilers Of those the most surprising, of course, was the Vikings over the 49ers. After that, though, each were pretty unexpected. The Titans put up a good showing against the Lions to take one from them. One has to wonder whether they won’t be as good as they predicted at the beginning of the season.

–         Arizona heat Nobody in the universe predicted that the Arizona Cardinals would be unbeaten after three weeks. Last week they beat the Patriots in New England and this week they made taming the Eagles look easy (I knew their luck would run out eventually). I’m not sure if they are a balanced enough team to keep up momentum and make the post-season but I hope so. What a fun story that would be.

–         The bad guys are losing The football gods are on top of the whole karma thing so far this football season. Drew the dick Brees and his Saints are 0-3 – and they look like an 0-3 team. Brian Belichick kicked and screamed but his team still fell short to the Ravens. Whiney RGIII and his Redskins lost heartbreakingly in his home début to the Bengals. The Jets may have won this week but they looked pretty bad doing it – and to the Miami Dolphins. Finally, perennial jerk Jim Harbaugh suffered the embarrassment of being beaten by the Vikings. Let’s hope the trend of the bad guys losing continues all season – especially in the case of the Saints.

Erik Ritland is a journalist and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His writings on culture, music (including his own projects), sports, religion, and many other topics are cataloged regularly at Ramblin’ On. You can reach him via email here.

 

2012 NFL Week Two

Posted September 20, 2012 by Erik Ritland
Categories: Pro Football

Vikings Ramble

Jared “the invisible man” Allen puts pressure on Andrew Luck to no avail.

Even ESPN picked the Vikings to go into Indianapolis last Sunday and spoil Andrew Luck’s inaugural home game. Sure the Colts, and especially Luck, didn’t look great in week one. But they were at home, after all. Seeing as the Vikings were only slightly better in their first week victory over the Jaguars it didn’t surprise me that they beat the Vikings. I even predicted it. And that our secondary would make Luck look better than he is for that matter.

The Vikings offense showed signs of life early and late in the game, the high point their fourth quarter drive that ended in a Kyle Rudolph touchdown. Peterson and Gerhardt looked effective early but eventually couldn’t get anywhere (although the Colts run game was somehow even worse). As usual the Vikings “wide receivers,” minus an under-utilized and seemingly injured Percy Harvin, were non-existent. The main reason it will be difficult for the Vikings offense to be successful this year is that there is no threat of a passing game. Because of this defenses, even ones that aren’t very good, won’t have to worry about it and can then concentrate almost solely on covering our talented tight ends and keeping Adrian Peterson out of the game.

On a positive note Christian Ponder put up good numbers. When he was on he ran the offense, even with its limited weapons, rather efficiently. He is seemingly coming in to his own as a leader. I wasn’t so sure that he’d have it in him but, as I said last week, I can see Ponder becoming another Brad Johnson, if not at least another Gus Frerotte.

Ponder did have his struggles, though, especially on third down. The collective hearts of Vikings fans must sink every third down – on either side of the ball, as our third down defense is maybe worse. Much like their offense the Vikings defense had shades of being okay but were mostly mediocre. Worst by far is our awful, awful defensive backs. If Andrew Luck can do what he did on Sunday to our pass defense what quarterback in the NFL won’t be able to do well against it? This, combined with the previously explained conundrum of our offense, makes me seriously think that the Vikings may not win another game all year. And certainly won’t go 6-10 as I had predicted.

Around the League

–          The New Orleans Saints lost in week two to Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Maybe if Drew Brees wasn’t so busy being an idiot and texting Roger Goodell he might be able to keep his head in the game better.

Sam Bradford celebrates a touchdown in the Rams victory over the Redskins.

–          Speaking of keeping their head in the game, I’ve never heard announcers say “another bad punt from Kluwe” as many times as they have this year. The easy answer would be to say that his many noisy off the field endeavors are distracting him. I won’t go that far yet but it’ll be hard not to think that if the trend continues.

–          Thankfully the New York Jets also lost on Sunday. The Steelers bounced back nicely, as I predicted, from their lackluster performance in week one. Idiot analysts are still asking how much time teams should spend on preparing for Tim Tebow in the Wildcat. The absolutely easy answer is this: none! Joe Webb is a better player than Tebow is and the weapons he has in the Wildcat, Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin, are as good or better than any options the Jets would have to help Tebow. It is a waste of time. There are many, many other stories worth paying attention to around the NFL.

–          Such as the Redskins surprising loss to the Saint Louis Rams. RGIII looked good but not good enough, which is surprising considering that the Rams defense isn’t as good as the Saints defense that he made look silly. Judging by the fight they put up both the Lions and the Rams may surprise a few people this year.

Erik Ritland is a journalist and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His writings on culture, music (including his own projects), sports, religion, and many other topics are cataloged regularly at Ramblin’ On. You can reach him via email here.