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September 25, 2007

Not feeling it

Silence. Sometimes it is good, and sometimes it causes people to wonder what is up. Honestly, I just haven't been "feeling it" lately. So excuse my extended hiatus. I think it might also have something to do with the fact that I just read the book The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Yikes, what a bleak book. Any book that features cannibalism and eating newborn children is bound to put a damper on anyone. I'm serious, Oprah is one sick person. Not only has she picked this book for her book club, but also stuff like Night by Elie Wiesel and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Depressing, depressing stuff. I guess when you have a bazillion dollars you have to look for ways to make yourself sadder. Oprah is so rich and happy she needs this kind of stuff to even herself out so she doesn't freak people out with a constant stream of happiness I guess. A poor sap like me just wants to slit my wrists and end it all after reading this stuff.

Ah ... but that is not what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about a number of different topics including:

The U of M Golden Gophers! -- You know what? I was happy after the loss to Purdue. I thought the team played like crap (fumbling that blocked punt was a low point), but there was a glimmer of hope. Enough hope that I will now make a bold prediction:

The Golden Gophers will beat Michigan and claim The Jug on October 27th.

You heard it here first! We all drank the Tim Brewster Kool-Aid. No doubt about it. I think we would all feel better if he had come in to town and said, "You know what? This team sucks. We probably won't win 3 games. I just want to be up front with everyone." But he didn't do that ... he got our hopes up and now he is paying for it. We are questioning not only his coaching ability but his ability to evaluate talent as well. I still say we'll be A-OK 2-3 years from now, but right now it is painful.

Having said that, if the Golden Gophers can claim the Jug? Oh man ... all is forgiven. And I predict they will. I have no statistics to back this up, only a gut feeling that we are all in for a treat. Who is with me? Jump on the bandwagon now!

The Minnesota Vikings! -- Boring. Excruciatingly boring in fact. So boring I would rather watch Golden Gopher football. If that doesn't spell it out for you I don't know what will.

You know, I've been thinking ... maybe it would have been better if Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper had never been members of the Vikings. They made things way too exciting and now we are bored with an average football team. Have we been spoiled? Yes, I think we have. Maybe AP/AD can spruce things up a bit in the long term, but right now Chilly and Zygi haven't given us anything to be excited about.

This is probably nothing you haven't heard before. I hope it gets better, but it would appear that we'll be waiting for a while for it to do so.

The Minnesota Twins! -- My plan for the off season includes re-signing Torii Hunter for a slight discount, but my goodness ... can we please give the man four years and be done with it? He makes the team better with his defense, leadership, and now his offense. He deserves to play in that new stadium. I say do what it takes to get it done.

The second part of my plan includes trading Johan Santana. No one, and I mean no one, is worth $20 million a year, especially a player who is on the field only once every five games. I would say keep him until the trade deadline, and then get just a phenomenal player that 1) you think you can re-sign for a reasonable price and 2) that wants to sign with the Twins. Surely there is someone out there.

I have faith in a rotation of Liriano, Baker, Slowey, Garza and Silva/Perkins. Naive? Sure. That is why I am a blogger and not a GM. But the way I see it, the Twins are kind of like a college baseball team. Players are constantly coming and going, but they always keep it interesting. I can live with that.

That's it for now, folks. See you later!

Posted by snackeru at September 25, 2007 6:59 AM


If anyone cares, the I-Max version of The Transformers movie rocks!!! A little spendy but great larger than life robot on robot action.

Also Packer-Vikes this weekend. What kind of bet between you and Cheesehead Craig will we be seeing?

Also look at this prediction I made on April 1:

So go ahead Craig, dream away, you deserve it as right now the Brewers are tied for first place but when the Brewers end up with 83-85 wins, don't take it too hard.

Also Craig, don't forget this bet (also from April 1):

To get this back on track with the Twins. I'll make you this wager Free: I believe the Brewers starting pitching rotation as set today will overall have a lower ERA than the Twins one will come the end of the season. I'm willing to bet a Chipotle burrito on it. You up for the challenge?

Posted by: Freealonzo at September 25, 2007 3:55 PM

I'll say I drank the Tim Brewster Kool-Aid, but probably not as much as Shane. I knew the team would struggle, but not this much! I would NOT have preferred it if Brewster had come in saying this team sucks. We had that guy and we fired him last December. Good riddance.

As for the Vikings, I'm not ready to totally quit on them yet, but it is starting to look an awful lot like Chilly got way too much credit as a QB coach while he was in Philly.

I agree that the Twins should re-sign Hunter for four years, even five if that's what it takes. I'm on the fence about trading Santana. If I thought the Twins could pull off something like when they traded Viola or Piersynski, then maybe. But I think I'll wait and see what the new GM does this off-season first. I do think that the Twins should make a strong push to keep Silva around, though, especially if they are entertaining thoughts of trading Santana. I would not want to go into the season without at least one veteran to anchor the starting rotation. He doesn't have to be a #1 guy, but he has to be someone that the young guys can learn from. I think Silva can fill that role if Santana is not around.

Posted by: Snyder at September 25, 2007 3:57 PM

Sadly, the Gophers and Vikings are no cure for the Oprah Book Club blues.

Posted by: Kurtis at September 25, 2007 4:25 PM

It's gonna be a looong looooooong cold winter up in fly-over land.

Posted by: kevin in az at September 25, 2007 5:44 PM

Hey Kev, it's always a long cold winter up here. Crappy MN sports teams aren't going to make it a whole lot worse. Also I'm becoming delusional about the Baby T-wolves. Get rid of RDavis and we have a fun team. (o.k. I'd rather have the Suns but were grasping at straws here).

Posted by: Freealonzo at September 25, 2007 8:57 PM

I remember those winters. I had to suffer through 30 of them. But like most years, at least you have the U of M hockey team.

I have a feeling Tubby will be feeling much of the same pain Punky Brewster is feeling right now.

Oh and the Vikings, Just pathetic offensively. This team just can't get the defense and offense together. In the late 80s the defense rocked and the offense was offensive thanks to Bob Schnelker. In the late 90s, the offense was explosive and the defense blew. Now we have a good defense again and the offense is sputtering. I miss the 70s....great defense and decent offense - not awesome, but above avg.

Posted by: kevin in az at September 25, 2007 11:28 PM

The difference with Tubby, though, is that he hasn't talked his program up to the point that we think he'll win the Big Ten this year. That was Brewster's biggest mistake. If he had come in and been even a little bit honest about the Gophers' chances this year we might understand these growing pains a little more. He could have come in and said, "We will work hard. We will do our best and possibly even go to the Rose Bowl. But honestly, it will take time to bring this team up to speed on what we are trying to implement." That would have satisfied the public and it would have better explained to the public that this will take time.

Tubby is not making the same mistake. He is quietly building a team that will probably be good 2 years from now. But he isn't trying to change our perception of what everyone knows about his team now: it sucks. That is a wise move.

Posted by: Shane at September 26, 2007 8:23 AM

From the Twins web site: Behind closed doors in executive session, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman updated the authority on the legal fight over the final price for the land upon which the ballpark is being built. No action was taken. The landowners are reportedly asking $33.18 Million for the parcel, which was assessed by the county to be worth about $13 million. The county upped its offer to $19.3 million earlier this month.

Posted by: packerfan386 at September 26, 2007 8:37 AM

I still don't get the rip on Brewster being a big talker. Sure he could have talked the Gophers down a little, but so what? Anyone with half a brain knew the Gophers were gonna suck this year.

Even MASON knew. The surest sign was when he goes out and picks up a bunch of JUCO defensive transfers. That is coach-speak for "we are gonna TOTALLY suck. I'd better do SOMETHING. ANYTHING!"

Once he's fired, the JUCO's vanish, and we are left w/ Mason's crappy defense.

The Purdue game was not horrible. They were playing to win into the 4th quarter. Turnovers and a slow start killed the team as it has in every game. That doesn't let Brewster off the hook: those problems are definitely a product of coaching skill. To rip on him for being a big talker, though. Huh? Judge him in December 2008 by how he and the team has reacted to what was ALWAYS going to be a tough start to his tenure.

Heck, if Mason had been a bigger talker (about someone other than himself) he might still be coaching somewhere, maybe even here...

Posted by: tato at September 26, 2007 9:28 AM

Re: Mase.

Don't forget, Mase may have gotten 3 non-conference victories this year and we would've gotten all excited. Big 10 schedule would have brought us crashing down to earth with possibility squeezing out 6 wins to get us to another crappy minor bowl. No thank you.

Brewster could have tempered his enthusiasm a bit but tato is right. Judge Brewster in December 2008, not now.

Posted by: Freealonzo at September 26, 2007 9:46 AM

Since this blog has a local sports bent, I'll put out a marginally related question:

I'm considering putting my money where my mouth is with respect to Gophers football, and thinking about joining a booster club for better season tickets, etc.

My question is: Does anyone know the difference between the Touchdown Club and the Goal Line Club?

Both claim similar benefits of membership, and the Goal Line Club claims to be 'official', but the Touchdown Club is sponsored by the University.

...I'm confused.

Posted by: tato at September 26, 2007 11:11 AM

I agree with Free....Judge Punky in a couple of years after some of his recruits start playing. It's way too early to judge. But he has toned it down a bit thank goodness. I think these losses are a blessing because it has shut him up a bit about taking "Gopher Nation" to Pasadena. I hadn't heard so much rah rah go team crap since Mr. Jeezo-Peezo Wacker.

Posted by: kevin in az at September 26, 2007 12:44 PM

Shane, we both love the Vikings, but there is no way you can consider them an "average" football team. They've played the bottom of the league, and are 1-2. What happens when they actually play someone good?

Right now, I'd be happy if the Vikings improved to "average".

Posted by: Jeff A at September 27, 2007 12:01 PM

FROM THE TWINS WEB SITE: Behind closed doors in executive session, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman updated the authority on the legal fight over the final price for the land upon which the ballpark is being built. No action was taken. The landowners are reportedly asking $33.18 Million for the parcel, which was assessed by the county to be worth about $13 million. The county upped its offer to $19.3 million earlier this month.

Posted by: packerfan386 at September 27, 2007 2:30 PM

I'm just going to say, NDSU beat Central Michigan 44-14. The Gophers have no defense, all the Bison have to do is play decent defense, wait for the Gophers to make one of their trademark blunders.

I finally got to see a Gopher game (lousy big 10 network)... and EEEGADS! Adam Weber looks like a 14 year old kid out there... scared, and accident prone.

I'll say this, he's a freshman, and 4 years in a program, taking his lumps as a starter... if brewster can keep his job for the next three years... they'll be a pretty damn good team (you have to be after four years) but it's going to be a long wait. As it is, they'll be in the new stadium, a good thing for sure.

they should still play NDSU every year... we need the 250k

Posted by: cj at September 27, 2007 8:12 PM

Can you believe the nerve of Torii Hunter?

First he starts out saying that he wants to stay in MN. Now he might not agree to a contract with the Twins.

The Twins offered him $45 million. Since he knows he is worth more than that he rejected the offer. Now he is asking for (brace yourself) fair market value for his services. How greedy can one person be?

The Twins have made it clear its not in their budget to spend more on him, and he is still refusing to sign. The audacity.

Since he did say he wants to stay in MN, and the Twins can't afford more than that, shouldn't he be obligated to sign with the Twins for $45M?

This sounds a little like the land squeeze by HC, but somehow the sentiment is a little different.

Shane, please weigh in on this, I would love to hear your take. I hope you are at least consistent and blast Hunter. After all, the more money they give the players, the less they will have for flowers and trees at the new stadium.

Posted by: Moonlight Graham at September 29, 2007 11:51 AM

Nick Coleman: Twins stumbled, but Big Papa Pohlad enjoyed a big year
By Nick Coleman, Star Tribune

Last update: September 29, 2007 – 10:25 PM

Since I had the bad luck to hear Calvin Griffith's 1978 after-dinner tirade in Waseca and my story on his remarks hit the front page on the final day of the season, leading to the trade of Rod Carew and making Sid Hartman's head spin, I have tried to keep my mouth shut on each year's last day for our beloved Twins.
But no guts, no glory.

The Minnesota Twins play their final game of 2007 today and will finish third in the American League Central, with a winning percentage under .500 for the first time since 2000.

A lot of things went wrong, from Johan Santana's bad first innings to Joe Mauer's touchy hamstring. But what you learn after watching a team for 46 years (I saw my first Twins game in fifth grade) is that you need to accentuate the positive after a year like this one.

So, without further ado, my nominee for MVP: Carl (Big Papa) Pohlad!

Big Papa is getting up there in years (he's 92), but he has great hands and is quick to the pockets.

Our pockets.

The team stumbled, but its owner had a fabulous year. According to Forbes magazine, Pohlad's net worth increased to $3.1 billion, up a cool $500 million from a year ago. It's probably just coincidence, but that's the same amount that the people of Hennepin County will pay in extra sales taxes for the new Twins ballpark, which is scheduled to open three seasons from now.

Forbes doesn't understand how this stadium deal works, which is a problem the magazine shares with Minnesota's taxpayers. In reporting on Big Papa's Big Pile, the magazine said Pohlad "persuaded" the Legislature to "put up money" for a new park.

Not exactly.

In fact, the Twins cooked up a strategy that allowed the Hennepin County Board to bypass a state law giving voters the right to approve local tax increases. Legislators from the county "opposed" the plan but were outvoted by outstate lawmakers. So $500 million (a billion when you include interest costs) was transferred to Forbes' 114th wealthiest American (and climbing) in a deal phonier than the "grass" in the Metrodome.

All without a peep from No New Taxes Tim Pawlenty, who signed the deal wearing a Twins jersey. Big Papa's net worth skyrocketed while -- checked your home equity lately? -- others' plunged.

There also has been a nice bump in the value of the Twins franchise: According to Forbes, the team's value increased 33 percent last year, from $216 million to $288 million.

The totals on the board are correct. Thank you, fans.

Yes, the Twins were 17 games out of first as of Saturday night. But don't worry! We'll get' em next year!

Big Papa got his this year.

So be sure to keep his impressive stats in mind when the Twins claim they can't afford to pay Torii Hunter or Johan Santana what they deserve.

That, fans, is total baloney.

In Waseca, during that infamous after-dinner talk 29 years ago, Pohlad's poor predecessor, Calvin Griffith, said a lot of foolish things. Eventually, he found forgiveness from most baseball fans, and even from his star, Rod Carew.

Pohlad bought the team from Calvin in 1984 and, if you ask me, has completed the surprising process of turning the old baseball man, Calvin (he died in 1999) into a nostalgic hero. Calvin may have done some dumb things, and said worse, but Carl Pohlad has never said anything other than "Show me the money."

You can't blame Pohlad for accepting when the politicians finally figured out a way to give it to him that was confusing enough to baffle the public and make $500 million somehow seem like chump change.

Now that we are having trouble finding half that much to replace the 35W bridge, it suddenly seems like a lot of money again.

No matter how you cut it, Big Papa Pohlad had an amazing year and his bottom line has been fattened by half a billion. He deserves our applause for that. But we might want to ask ourselves a question:

How did we get so dumb as to let it happen?

Posted by: Nick Colamann at September 30, 2007 11:00 AM

Nick Colamann,
"How did we get so dumb as to let it happen?"
Good question and here is the answer. Everyone is drinking Oputz's kool aid. He is focused on stiffing the tax payers into paying Carl the Billionare to build the new stadium. That is why he is unwilling to pay "fair market value" for the land. Carl has told him (through contributions and other perks) get the money from someone else because "I am too rich" to pay. Oputz has already stiffed the taxpayers so now Carl the Billionare is telling him to stiff the landowners. Why else would Optuz have to hire a PR firm to spin the truth to hide his real motives. What would you think of someone you are doing business with who hired a PR (truth spinster) person to manipulate the facts to meet their motives? Could they be afraid of the truth? The difference between "fair market value" for the stadium and what Carl the Billionare wants the county and others to pay is chump change to Carl The Billionare. Either way, Carl the Billionare will make all of us pay in higher ticket prices in the new stadium. So, why not let Carl the Billionare pay now because we will pay later either way.
Just get it done now and save us the tax money and let the lawyers and accountants move on to the next blood sucking opportunity.

Lastly, Carl the Billionare, sign Tori!

Posted by: Jimmy Jack at September 30, 2007 11:29 AM

Jimmy Jack... You asked the following:

"What would you think of someone you are doing business with who hired a PR (truth spinster) person to manipulate the facts to meet their motives? Could they be afraid of the truth?"

I think HC was saying the same thing about LPII for the past several months. I have two words for you... Aron Kahn. If you don't know who he is, he is a former St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter who is the primary PR spokesman for the landowners (and has been since February, I believe). So I guess I agree with the implications of your statement... considering that the landowners hired a "truth spinster" a long time ago. I guess HC is a little slow to the PR game.

Posted by: The Rational Actor at September 30, 2007 10:06 PM

Jimmy Jack... You asked the following:

"What would you think of someone you are doing business with who hired a PR (truth spinster) person to manipulate the facts to meet their motives? Could they be afraid of the truth?"

I think HC was saying the same thing about LPII for the past several months. I have two words for you... Aron Kahn. If you don't know who he is, he is a former St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter who is the primary PR spokesman for the landowners (and has been since February, I believe). So I guess I agree with the implications of your statement... considering that the landowners hired a "truth spinster" a long time ago. I guess HC is a little slow to the PR game.

Posted by: The Rational Actor at September 30, 2007 10:07 PM

The Rational Actor,
I am surprized you compare a former PP reporter to a third party outside PR firm the county has hired. Could it be that Oputz's version of the the truth needs a real "spin" that a former PP reporter would not have the experience, expertise, staff or the need by the landowners to properly spin? Why does the county have to go outside to hire a PR firm when they already have a big community relations department available for which the taxpayers are funding?

To Carl the Billionare...sign Tori!

Posted by: jimmy Jack at September 30, 2007 10:55 PM

Outside PR Firm v. Full-time PR spokesman. It doesn't seem much different to me. Truth is, "spin" has been happening to both sides for quite some time now, and HC hiring an outside PR firm isn't the big deal that you are trying to make it out to be. You could argue that Aron doesn't have the "experience, expertise, staff or the need by the landowners to" as you say it "properly spin", but spin is spin... I don't think a PR firm or a full-time PR spokesman are going to "spin" much differently. They both are supposed to make their respective clients look good by making the other party look bad.

Your choice to make HC's hiring of a PR firm look dubious is your own personal "spin" on the topic, and your statements assuming the lack of need by the landowners to "properly spin" is your own murky assumption (one that either inherently ignores LPII's PR spokesman or discredits LPII's PR guy as an incapable of "properly spinning"). It is a little ironic that you take the position that experience, expertise, staff, etc. are needed to "properly spin" when it's pretty clear that you have your own little amateur spin-shop going on. I'll it up for debate whether you are "properly spinning" or just spinning.

Posted by: The Rational Actor at October 1, 2007 1:18 AM

The Carl is a billionaire --> he can afford to spend more on the twins logic is sooooo old, tired, and stupid. It doesn't matter how rich carl is if he can't make more money on the twins he cant spend more on them.
I don't usually like to make character judgements - even on the internet - but nick coleman is a pretentious idiot. Recently hes blamed the Twins for spending money on the stadium instead of bridge infrastructure (as if the two were mutually exclusive) and launched a tirade against the Carlyle building (one of my favorite new towers) for ruining someone's (his probably) view of the river.

Posted by: Dan at October 1, 2007 9:10 AM

I only hope the additional cost to HC for their "spin" comes out of the infrastructure budget.

Posted by: STM at October 1, 2007 10:18 AM

Hey, I was just going thru some of the archived files and ran into a couple of Aron Kahn references, whom Shane had referenced as an expert in the stadium negotiations. And as a "good" source for information.

I just think that it's pretty amusing that he's "switched sides".

Maybe I missed it, but did Shane ever track this minor story? It's kind of a mystery to me, but there's possibility of a intriguing backstory here.

Posted by: drake33 at October 1, 2007 4:38 PM

I'm too lazy to go back through the archives to say exactly what the Aron Kahn references were but I think I know from memory, here goes:

Aron Kahn was a reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press who was assigned the Twins Ballpark story. Typically he had pretty good articles on the ballpark, county negotiations, the effort at the state capitol, etc. He seemed to have more sources and insight than the Strib reporter assigned to the story.

In the Pioneeer Press staff bloodletting that occured last year, Aron was one those reporters who lost his job (voluntarily or not, I'm not sure). Basically he landed on his feet quite rapidly as the spokesperson for LPII.

No conspiracy, just a good reporter who now has a new job putting LPII's efforts in their best light.

Posted by: Freealonzo at October 2, 2007 8:50 AM

Shane! Come back, Shane!

Posted by: Jeff A at October 25, 2007 11:23 AM

Since Shane still isn't providing us with his insight and wisdom, I'll bring back this nugget from January 26, 2006:

Getting Davis and Blount should improve the Wolves defensively and offensively. I think we will see the Wolves reach respectability with this move. Time will tell, but I am excited.

Hindsight is 20-20 but man, talk about being 100% wrong. With Davis and Blount now gone, I think we can offically classify this trade is a frackin' disaster.

Posted by: Freealonzo at October 26, 2007 9:29 AM

So, Toronto Vikings?

Posted by: I Want Answer at October 28, 2007 6:00 PM

Since Shane is still not providing us with his wit and wisdom I'll bring everyone's attention to this comment from someone called "TheSwammy." (August 22, 2007)

Vikings Prediction: Write it down!

at DET- W
at KCC- L
at CHI- L
at DAL- W
at GBP- L
at NYG L
at SF- L
at DEN- W (they'll be resting for the playoffs)

Yikes, now that is one bad prediction!

Posted by: Freealonzo at October 29, 2007 10:50 AM

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