September 12, 2004
What a weekend
What a weekend for Twin Cities sports enthusiasts. We had the Twins, we had the Gophers, and we had the Vikings and they all won their respective contests. Let's get to my "thoughtful" observations (yeah right):
The Gophers took a step back, in my opinion, this weekend. They say a win is a win, but I say a win is a win unless you are playing a Division I-AA opponent. Then you had better Win with a captial "W" and win convincingly. The Gophers struggled against a team picked to finish in the middle of the pack of the D I-AA Gateway conference. On the bright side the mistakes they made can be corrected. For example, Justin Valentine being stuffed at the goal line and then stripped was rather embarrassing. That touchdown would have blown the game wide open. I tell you, it looked like the Gophers were trying to pump themselves up the entire game but just couldn't do it due to the caliber of opponent they were playing. Note to Mason: never schedule a D I-AA opponent again. It just ain't worth it. A win against a D I-AA opponent doesn't count towards bowl standings, but a loss sure would.
Three things I've noticed watching Gopher football: 1) the Gophers' offensinve line will wear down opponents. A close game doesn't matter in the first couple of quarters. Sooner or later the O-line is going to wear down the defense and Barber-Maroney is going to go wild. It is inevitable. 2) the Gophers' defense needs to defend the short pass better. Teams are starting to figure out that if you want to beat the Gophers just nickel and dime them down the field. That has got to stop. And 3) Cupito is a much more accurate passer that Abdul-Kaliq, especially on the run. That pass to Ernie Wheelwright was a thing of beauty.
Do you know how cool it is to work for the University of Minnesota? Let me explain it to you. My place of work, my employer, has a football team. Not only that, but the place I work also has a basketball team, a baseball team, and a hockey team that all play on a national level. Does your place of work have any teams to that you can cheer for? Does, say, General Mills have a nationally ranked football team? I bet they wish they did so they could take on those jerks at Kelloggs. I tell you, working at the U really has its perks. You just have to know where to look.
Illinois State is located in the cities of Bloomington-Normal. These two cities are known as the "Twin Cities" in Illinois. So, in a way, last Saturday's game was a battle between the two "Twin Cities"!! So, needless to say, Minneapolis-St. Paul crushed that pansy town of Bloomington-Normal to claim the title of the real Twin Cities. I'm sorry, these are the things I think about. It cannot be helped.
Let's talk about the Twins. What is really on my mind right now is who finishes out the three man rotation in the playoffs? Mulholland, Silva, or Lohse? I think we can knock out Lohse right now. He has just been way too erratic this year to be considered. So that leaves Mulholland and Silva. If you would have asked me on Friday I would have said Mulholland for sure. He's got the experience and has been somewhat consistent this year. However, Silva's performance on Saturday was very good. I think the coaching staff is taking a liking to his approach his last couple of outings. Plus, he can probably last a little longer out there than Mulholland at this point in the season. He might just be the third starter in the playoffs.
I'll be going to the game this Tuesday to see Santana pitch. I swear every time he takes the mound I think he is going to get a no-hitter. And now that I have just jinxed him it probably won't happen, but I'm not really the superstitious type. I think the bats of the White Sox may have more to do with the difficulty Santana will have pitching a no-hitter on Tuesday. Anyway, this Tuesday the Twins will be handing out a Santana/Cy Young button at the game and that has me pumped! I already have the "Get to Know 'Em" and "Gotta See 'Em" buttons, not to mention the complete set of Twins fishing lures, so a new button will be nice to add to my collection of atypical Twins memorabilia.
Finally, we have the Vikings game. Much like the Gopher's game. I was not impressed with the defense. First of all, the Vikings could not get to the quarterback. We had one sack in the fourth, but up until that point Testaverde had all the time he needed. Was Hovan even out there? They showed a replay on the JumboTron that featured Hovan just getting stuffed. Anyway, also much like the Gophers, Dallas picked our secondary apart with short passes. Vinny passed for 355 yards for goodness sake, and they converted 8/15 3rd downs. To make it worse, Dallas is an average offense at best! Am I being too critical? They did only score 17 points.
No wait, I have even worse news: our starting cornerback, Ken Irvin, injured his Achilles tendon before the game in warmups and is probably lost for the season. He's not really our starting CB, but Brian Williams has been hurt most of the preseason. Brian Williams, you had better get to 100% really quick. And everyone, please say a little prayer for the health of Winfield this season. Our secondary is looking very, very thin right now.
Now for the bright side. Our offense is humming. Daunte looked spectacular out there today. I mean, five touchdown passes! Five! He is on pace for 80 TD passes this year! OK, deep breath. Daunte's audible to Onterrio Smith in the 2nd quarter demonstrates, at least to me, what a mature QB Daunte is turning into. And Moss, although he officially had only 27 yards, really marched the Vikings down the field. I saw in his press conference that he too was shocked with the 2 interference penalties called against the Dallas defense. I think we'll see a lot more of that throughout the season. And did you see Randy Moss lay down the guantlet when a reporter asked him to compare himself to Terrell Owens? Moss said, "There is no comparison." Ohhh ... I love that kind of stuff. Let the trash talking begin.
The Vikings win was great, don't get me wrong, and I think the defense will improve as the season progresses. I mean, they are already better than last year. However, the best news to come out of the day was Reggie Fowler's interview with the press. In his interview he said he anticipates making a formal offer "in the next few weeks." And concerning his relationship with Denny Hecker he said:
"I think it's very important, as an outsider, to give a level of comfort to the people here," Fowler said. "And with people like Denny Hecker involved, I think that goes a long ways towards establishing credibility that we would keep the team here. It takes enough work just getting involved in buying the team. Can you imagine the work it would take to buy a team and then move it?"
This is very , very, very good news. I am so pumped about this. To have a local owner again (Fowler would move to the TC and Denny already lives here, duh!) will be huge. Fowler also hinted if he bought the team his company's real estate arm could get involved in the development of a new stadium. I don't know what that means exactly, but I would suggest Fowler tries to go it without the aid of the state legislature. It just isn't going to happen with the state's assistance, I'm afraid. Maybe (hopefully!) he has already considered that.
Good weekend. See you soon.
Nack: Depth in the secondary is a concern, and I agree that Hovan was invisible. The pass rush will only get better, as it did yesterday as the game progressed. In regards to Reggie Fowler, I liked what Tom Powers had to say in the Pioneer Press:
"So it was an interesting afternoon at the Metrodome. Reggie Fowler, an alleged potential buyer of the team, was watching from a suite. No word on whether Donald Watkins and Socrates Babacas were watching from adjacent suites."
Your great weekend will continue tonight, when you watch the Packers get destroyed by the Panthers on Monday Night Football! The Vikes are in first place to stay!!!
Curt in Grand Forks
Posted by: Curt Hanson at September 13, 2004 8:36 AM
I'm taking Fowler's potential bid a little more seriously than Powers (although that was very funny). For one thing he is taking his time. He even took his time going to the media and did so reluctantly yesterday. Also, he has included Denny Hecker who I think is a stand up individual and a Minnesotan. Those are two things neither Socco or Watkins ever did. Finally, it sounds like he is prepared to meet Red's selling price. It may sound too good to be true, but I think Fowler and Hecker will definitely make an offer. Hopefully it will be enough.
Posted by: Shane at September 13, 2004 12:39 PM
Dream on Curt! Last night's performance was amazingly impressive. The Packer's dominated the front 4 of the Panthers, who are arguably the best in the game. Long season to go still, but I am very optimistic on the Packers.
Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at September 14, 2004 9:14 AM
I myself am worried that the Santana for Cy Young buttons will put a jinx on the left-hander. I'm not superstitious, but there are certain things you just don't do. Handing out Santana for Cy Young buttons is something like saying, "he's got a no hitter going" in the 7th inning. The baseball gods are not to be messed with.
Enjoy the game. Hope I'm wrong.
Posted by: kurtis at September 14, 2004 4:21 PM
Can you post an image of the Johan Santana for cy young button? I really want it, but can't find it online anywhere.
Posted by: ill1 at September 14, 2004 10:47 PM