My View of the Sports Scene - KXLT - Fox 47 Rochester MN News, Weather, Sports #rochmn

By Steve Jorgenson

My View of the Sports Scene

August 13, 2012: 

The NFL season is officially upon us.  That is if you count pre-season football as the beginning of the season.  I really do not, but there are many issues that need to addressed in the pre-season.  As far as the Vikings are concerned there are a lot of questions.  Will Christian Ponder take the next step and become at least a middle of the road starting quarterback?  Will the highly drafted rookie Matt Kalil be able to anchor the offensive line and cover Ponder's blind side?  Will Jerome Simpson be the deep threat at wide receiver (after serving his three game suspension) that the offense so desperately needs?  Will the defense be able to stop anyone?  And, last but certainly not least will Adrian Peterson and his reconstructed knee be ready to start the season when as my old friend Red McCombs used to say - "when the bullets are flying for real" ? 

From my point of view I hope they don't rush things with AP.  He obviously is a faster healer and wants to get back on the field ASAP.  But, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that he is the key to the offense and if they lose him in a meaningless exhibition game the season could look a lot like last year's 3-13 debacle.  My view on Ponder is pretty much the opposite.  He should get as many reps in pre-season games as he can get.  He is NOT an established starter in this league and there is only so much he is going to learn practicing against his own team.  Even with the risk of injury he should out there on the field at least three quarters of every pre-season game.  I know this is unrealistic in today's NFL but the Vikings need to find out if this guy can play or not.  Hopefully we will know sooner than later.  I don't know about you but 3-13 was a bit hard to stomach last year.  In fact the last two years combined the Vikings are 9-23.  I have to believe if there is not improvement shown this year there will be major changes and more rebuilding.  The kind of sounds like we are becoming the Detroit Lions circa 1958-2009.  Just for fun go back and see how many winning seasons they had in that period.

July 6, 2012: While I am not the world's biggest hockey fan it's hard to ignore the fact the Minnesota Wild have become the focus of the NHL with the free agent signings of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.  They are undoubtedly the best available free agents this year and for the Wild to land both of them is beyond great news for the franchise and their fans.  This should not only make them more competitive right away but could set them up for consistent success for years to come.  The best analogy I can think of is the Reggie White comparison.  When Reggie chose to sign with the Green Bay Packers in 1993 he made it "ok" to play in Green Bay.  There was always a spoken and unspoken threat by many coaches and general managers back in the 70's and 80's basically saying "if you don't start playing better we are going to trade you to Green Bay".  But, with Reggie choosing to sign there and the Packers trading for Brett Favre it set the table for years of success.  I see the same thing happening for the Wild.  Players like to make money but they love to win.  Especially hockey players.  While all professional athletes say they want to win I believe hockey players really mean it when they say they only play the game to win the Stanley Cup.  So, kudos go to the Wild ownership and management to invest the money in these two great players.  If all goes well they will be paid back with many years of success.

March 13, 2012: I am not one to believe in curses or a certain team/franchise being jinxed or any of that superstitious garbage that we have all heard about over the years.  But, when it comes to the Minnesota Timberwolves one would almost have to think there is a higher power that really has it out for this franchise.  After years of bad management, bad luck in the lottery and almost un-watchable basketball on the floor they looked like they finally had turned the corner this season.  Kevin Love agreed to a long term deal and the Wolves had to be happy that the best power forward on the planet thought enough of the teams chances to win that he gave up the option to be a free agent.  They were hovering right around the eighth playoff spot in the Western Division and everything seemed to be heading in the right direction.  Notice I said "were".  That was until the last few seconds of the game against the hated Lakers in Minneapolis last Friday night.  Ricky Rubio has been the straw that stirs the drink of this up and coming exciting team.  Rubio was guarding Kobe Bryant when they ran into each other and knocked knees.  It looked innocent enough at the time, maybe a bruised knee that would hurt for a awhile.  Then you have to remember that luck, karma or whatever you want to call it that always seems bad for this team.  We found out Saturday morning that Rubio has a torn ACL and is out for the year.  It is tragically typical for this franchise to have this happen.  Maybe they will weather this storm and continue on the path to a winning season and maybe making the playoffs.  More likely though they are destined for yet another lottery pick.

January 16, 2012: Note to Packer fans: Well, I almost made it all the way through the day, but I do fell compelled to at least chime in…I seem to remember another team 14 years ago that had a dominant regular season in fact that team was 15-1 and set all kinds of offensive/scoring records.  In fact at times they made the game look quite easy.  They made it to the NFC Championship and only had to beat a good (not great) team to get to the Super Bowl.  I think we all know how that turned out.  Yesterday's loss by your beloved Pack while tragic does seem a little ironic…Back then the Vikings were the only team to go through a season that finished 15-1 and not at least make it to the Super Bowl – Well, all I can say is misery loves company.  And don't give me all that garbage about how many championships the Packers have won over the years and the empty Super Bowl trophy case in Minnesota…None of that matters now does it?  Your team was destined for another Super Bowl run and all the Packer fans just thought it was a formality…in fact some were wondering why even worry about the Giants…I heard some of them say Saturday evening "now that the Saints are out it will be smooth sailing to Indy"…Football is funny that way – turnovers, dropped passes and a QB that was just a little off.  I am sure you have had a tough day…and about the only thing I have left to say is I know how you feel…going 15-1 and not going to the Super Bowl just flat out stinks. doesn't it !

Nov. 9, 2011: The Vikings are at the half way point of the season and at 2-6 most fans are pretty down about the way the season has gone so far.  I am glad they did not find a way to hold those three big halftime leads early in the season.  I am also glad that they did not come back and win game against Kansas City and Green Bay.  They had the ball with a chance to win both of those games at the end, but as we know they failed and now stand at 2-6.  Why you ask am I glad about the Vikings losing?  Pretty easy.  Let's just say they were 3-5, 4-4 or maybe even 5-3.  If that were the case we would not have seen Christian Ponder and many of the other glaring weaknesses of the team would not have come to the forefront.  I am a believer in the theory that a team needs to bottom out before they can improve.  The beginning of that happened during the 39-10 loss in Chicago.  Seeing Ponder take the field in that game and nearly leading the Vikes to a win against the heavily favored Packers the following week is a glimpse into the future.  Assuming that he is the quarterback of the future they can concentrate on the other areas of need.  They need help at wide receiver, offensive line and the secondary to name a few.  Building through the draft is the best way to go in the NFL.  Teams can plug a hole or two using free agency but for the most part the teams that are consistently successful build through the draft.  Let's just hope the brain wizards in the Vikings front office can figure that out.   

Sept. 30, 2011: Wow! Talk about a tough time to be a Minnesota sports fan.  The Twins have ended their season losing 99 games – they managed to avoid losing 100 but in the end it really doesn't matter too much.  Between injuries and players that were counted on for big years not coming through it has been one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory.  Moving on to the Minnesota Gopher football team.  The new coach was actually here in Rochester this week visiting the Mayo Clinic trying to find out why he keeps having seizures. They are now 1-3 after losing to North Dakota State.  I thought the team that was bigger, stronger and faster was supposed to win on the football field.  The Gophers should have the edge over a team like the Bison, but they found a way to lose by two touchdowns.  Good luck at the "big house" this Saturday.  The Gophers lost at home last week to a team not even in the same division of college football and we are supposed to think they will have a chance at Michigan and their 100,000 plus Wolverine fans?  I don't think so.  This brings me to the biggest disappointment of all.  Of course I am talking about the 0-3 Minnesota Vikings.  I don't think any of us thought they would be a Super Bowl contender this season but I think we were holding out hope they would be better than last year and at least have a shot at making the playoffs. Well, not just that they are 0-3 but they way they have lost the three games is the really disappointing part.  Blowing halftime leads of 10, 17 and finally 20 points this past Sunday against the once lowly Lions has set them apart from any other team in the history of the NFL.  That's right, no other team since the NFL began back in 1920 has done what the Vikings have done to start this season in terms of not being able to hold on to half time leads.  I think it's time to cut their losses and dump Mc Nabb and throw rookie quarterback Christian Ponder into the fire.  Why not?  Could it really get any worse? At least us fans could start looking toward the future.  Oh well, I guess all is not lost.  Aren't the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA Finals?   

Sept. 14, 2011: The Donavan McNabb era as a Minnesota Viking did not get off to the start any of us would have hoped for week one in San Diego.  I think realistically most of us Viking fans probably thought there was little chance the Vikes go to Southern California and get a victory, but at half time with a ten point lead we have to admit things were looking pretty good.  Then they had to ruin all of the fun and actually play the second half.  What a dud that half of football turned out to be.  The Vikes looked totally lost on offense and the defense gave little resistance to the Chargers.  It appeared to me the Vikings came out in the second half and thought they were ahead 42-7 rather than 17-7.  They had to know that a ten point lead against a team as talented as the Chargers wasn't going to hold up. But, they continually ran the ball on first and second downs and then predictably tried to pass on third down. All of this added up to the Chargers taking advantage of the Vikings ineptitude and a very disappointing loss.  Let's hope that the coaching staff can look at the film of the game and come up with some answers.  If not we could be in for another very long season.

July 29, 2011: Now that the players and owners have buried that hatchet and we are actually going to have a football season it seems like it's to chime in on what the Vikings have been up to this week.  Of course the big news is the acquisition of Donavan McNabb from the Washington Redskins.  The more I think about this the more I like it.  McNabb is only 34 even though it seems like he's been in the league since the late 80's.  He has a chance to be the perfect "caretaker" quarterback until the Vikes are ready to turn the keys to the car over to Christian Ponder.  The two biggest questions seem to be can McNabb's ego handle being a stop-gap type quarterback and when will Ponder assume the throne?  I think McNabb really has no choice but to swallow his pride and do his best to prove all the people who say he's a washed up has been wrong. After all he was beaten out of his starters spot last season in Washington by none other than Rex Grossman.  That had to be quite the wake up call to a guy who at one point in his career was on that short list of best quarterbacks in the NFL. As for the second question – I think there is a chance Ponder could be the starter before the end of this season.  From everything I heard it seems like he is a very bright guy and should pick up the offense pretty quick.  Who knows how he will handle NFL blitzes and all that comes with being a winning quarterback in the NFL.  But, if McNabb falters I would think the Vikings would take a chance and see what Ponder can do. I think the best case scenario for the team would be that McNabb plays well this season and Ponder is able to watch and learn. Hopefully by this time next year the Vikings could roll into the season with Ponder and he would be the starter for a long time to come.   

May 24, 2011: Pretty tough being a Twins fan these days.  The last time they were this bad was the mid 1990's when the lineup had such household names as Chip Hale, Pedro Munoz and the always popular Scott Klingenbeck, remember them?  Well, as we sit here near the end of May the Twins have the worst record in all of baseball and there really is no reason for any hope of recovery.  Some will say when everyone gets healthy and those who are slumping snap out of it the Twins could still salvage the 2011 season.  I have always been a "glass is half full" type of fan but I really see no way out of this quagmire.  It is hard to pinpoint the origin of this collapse because it has been so widespread and complete.  Failure from the General Manager by thinking that Alexi Casilla can be an everyday player.  Failure by the Manager on the field by letting Joe Nathan jump right back into the closer role after having his elbow reconstructed just last year.  One former MVP (Joe Mauer) missing all but a handful of games with something called "general soreness" and another former MVP (Justin Morneau) is looking like a shell of his former self.  The pitching staff is in shambles from the starters to the relievers and even the fans have been booing and in many cases not bothering to show up.  The Twins have had a lot of success over the last ten years winning several division titles and being a model franchise but it sure looks like this is going to be one of those years that they and their fans would just as soon forget.

April 29, 2011: The Vikings have made Christian Ponder of Florida State their first round draft choice and I think while they may have went out on a bit of a limb they were pretty much forced into taking a quarterback in the first round for the first time since 1999 when the drafted Dante Culpepper out of Central Florida.  Time will tell if Ponder is the right choice for the Vikings, but they could not go another year without addressing the most glaring need on the football team.  Year after year they would plug in a veteran and hope they could squeeze a productive season out of him.  Over the last two years they had Brett Favre and while the 2010 season was a miserable failure we would all agree that 2009 was very successful.  But the Vikings still did not have a viable option to build their future around at the QB position.  Now they have made that leap of faith and I applaud them for going out on a limb and taking a quarterback at number twelve in the draft when many of the experts thought they should shore up either the offensive or defensive lines.  From all accounts it sounds like Ponder is very bright and should be able to at the very least compete for the starting QB position right away.  In a perfect world the Vikings would like to find a veteran who could guide the team through this season and let Ponder hold a clip board for the 2011 season.  If Donavan McNabb could be brought in without much in return he would be a good stop gap quarterback. He would give the Vikings a chance to win this season and hopefully show Ponder the ropes so he could take over the reigns for the 2012 season. I think the real question was not if they should have taken a quarterback but, which of the group that was available to them will turn out to be the best choice.  That really is a tough call.  Jacksonville traded up in front of the Vikings to get Blaine Gabbert from Missouri and Jake Locker went to the Titans as expected.  So, the Vikings really had three left to choose from – Ryan Mallet from Arkansas, Andy Dalton from TCU and Ponder.  Time will tell if they made the right choice but I am happy that they at least have made an attempt to find the quarterback of the future.   

April 18, 2011: The first two weeks of the Major League Baseball season have not been kind to out Minnesota Twins.  They are 4-8 and now the news comes out that Joe Mauer is headed to the disabled list for fifteen days with "general leg soreness".  I think it is time for the Twins make the move and get Joe out from behind the plate.  While it is great to say we have the best catcher in all of baseball it doesn't matter too much if he can't stay healthy.  The Twins need his bat in the lineup in the worst way and if he continues to catch he will continue to break down. I think the Twins should seriously consider moving him to left field.  If they did that they could consider trading either Delmon Young or Jason Kubel for some much needed pitching or even possibly a catching prospect.  Mauer is definitely a good enough athlete to play the outfield and having his bat in the lineup everyday will make the team that much better.  I know the Twins like having Mauer behind the plate because of the defense he provides and the way he handles the pitching staff but if his presence in the batting order on a daily basis is threatened because of injury the right thing to do is move him to left field sooner than later.

March 25, 2011: Once again the NCAA Basketball Tournament has proven it is one of if not the best sporting event out there.  Teams like Richmond, VCU and Butler making it to the sweet sixteen along with the traditional powerhouse teams such as Ohio State, Kansas and Kentucky provide balance and intrigue that is unmatched in other sports.  It would be more fun if the Gophers were in the mix but after the way the season ended for them the NIT didn't even want them.  But, even without the Gophers being there the tournament still should hold the interest of most basketball fans. Everyone fills out their bracket and follows along and if you are like me you are crossing out a lot of teams that you picked to go far.  In fact, after the first weekend not one of the 5.9 million brackets filled out in the ESPN bracket challenge had all of the sweet sixteen teams correct.  That just go to show you that March Madness has once again lived up to its name.

February 9, 2011: While watching the Super Bowl on FOX 47 I couldn't help but think how all of the Packer fans I know would handle winning yet another championship.

Admittedly coming from a Viking fan my opinion is going to already be somewhat formed.  I know that in the past I have received countless pictures of empty trophy cases with the title of the picture "Viking Super Bowl trophy case".  I have a feeling that taunts like this will only continue their frequency as we move along.  We all know the Vikings had a very forgetable season what with the Brett Favre fiasco, trading for Randy Moss, cutting Randy Moss, the firing of Brad Childress, the dome collapsing and then on the last day of the season finding a way to lose to the Lions.  Okay, it was a really bad season.  However, let's remember this Packer team that ended up winning the Super Bowl was 10-6 during the regular season.  They had to beat the Bears at home on January 2 just to qualify for the post season as a six seed.  Keep in mind the Pack lost to those same Lions and also lost to a really bad Washington Redskin team during their what turned out to be championship season.  To their credit when the bell rang for the playoffs they got hot at the right time and played really well. They had the hardest road possible – winning on the road in Philadelphia, Atlanta and finally in Chicago against the Bears.  So, from one Viking fan congratulations on winning your 13th ring all I ask is one thing.  Act like you have been there before.

January 12, 2011: The Minnesota Gopher Men's basketball team sure knows how to make headlines.  Unfortunately lately it has been for the wrong reasons.  Between struggling on the court to the tune of a 1-3 record in the Big Ten and the ongoing problems off the court this season could spiral out of control if things don't change for the better soon.  On the court the team still has trouble getting a good shot in the half court set and their perimeter defense is inconsistent at best.  Off the court they have once again had behavior problems with key players.  Devoe Joseph is no longer with the program due to issues that have not totally been disclosed but it is safe to say that Coach Tubby Smith's patience had run out with the junior guard.  Now it seems Trevor Mbakwe is in trouble yet again.  He allegedly contacted a young lady that has a restraining order against him.  The details of this incident are still unclear but he is at the very least guilty of very poor judgment.  The good news is the season is still young and the Gophers still have a chance to rattle off some wins and make it a good season. For their sake and Gopher basketball fans everywhere lets hope they get it together soon.  I for one think the winters around here are a little less harsh when the Gophers are competitive.

November 16, 2010: What an embarrassment it has become to be a Viking fan this season.  I admit it a few weeks ago I was delusional enough to believe the Vikings still had a chance to recover from a terrible start to the season and with the benefit of an easier schedule they would be ready to make a run at a NFC North Division Title.  The Vikings had the miracle comeback and beat a bad Arizona Cardinal team last week and the hope was that momentum would carry over to this week's game at Chicago against the Bears.  While the Bears were 5-3 going into the game the prevailing thought was that they were not nearly as good as their record indicated.  That's what makes the Vikings losing by two touchdowns even harder to swallow.  The Bears had 116 yards in penalties and the always enigmatic Jay Cutler lived up to his reputation by throwing horrible interception in the end zone. All that and they were still good enough to beat the Vikings.  Notice I have not even mentioned all of the off the field problems that have followed the Vikings around like a plague this season. The coach continues to throw players under the bus, the players continue to complain about the coach not having their back and the owner has hinted at firing the coach mid-season.  What a mess!  All of this leads me to believe that last year was the Vikings best chance at the elusive Super Bowl trip.  Doesn't that seem to be a long time ago now?

October 25th, 2010: Is it over?  Are they done?  After a crushing defeat in Green Bay the Vikings are now 2-4.  With the prospects of being 2-5 looking very likely being that they are headed to Foxboro to play the Patriots on Halloween.  Really about the only thing going in their favor is that there are no dominant teams in the NFC North or for that matter in the entire NFC.  The Bears at 4-3 and the Packers now at 4-2 both have the look of medicore teams at best.  After next week the schedule for the Vikings gets much easier with the likes of Arizona, Chicago and Buffalo on the docket in the coming weeks.  So, even if they do fall to the Pats and drop to 2-5 I would not count them out just yet.  More than likely 9-7 or possibly 10-6 will win the North and that team will make the playoffs. This year without any dominant teams in the conference a chance to go the Super Bowl is much more up in the air than in years past.  So, even though things look a little bleak here in October keep in mind a lot can change between now and the end of the season.

October 5th, 2010:  The playoffs begin this week and the Twins face and all too familiar foe.  The New York Yankees are once again standing in front of the Twins again this year.  There are some factors pointing in the Twins favor this year though.  The first of which is they have home field advantage in the first round series against the Yankees.  This has not been the case in the past seasons and if the Twins advance to the ALCS this will be one of the main reasons.  Yankee Stadium (new or old) is one of the most intimidating places in all of sports.  If the Twins can take care of their business at Target Field they will slay the mighty dragon that is the Yankees.  The other thing working in their favor is the Yankee pitching staff is not as solid as it has been in the past.  Of the starting staff only C.C.Sabathia really would be considered better than any of the starters the Twins will throw at the Yanks.  Also, the end of the game is not so automatic anymore for them either.  Mariano Rivera has developed a few chinks in the armour and the Twins even have had some success against him this season.  Jason Kubel's grand slam at the Stadium earlier this year off of Rivera is evidence that he is human after all.  If the Twins potent lineup can deliver there is no reason not to believe that this is the year they get past the Yanks and advance in the playoffs.  But, beating the defending champs is never easy.  Way back in spring training the Twins said that it was not good enough this year to just get to the playoffs.  They built a team that is ready to play in October and hopefully early November. 

September 15th, 2010:  The Vikings had their first game of the season against the Saints in New Orleans last week and really to the surprise of no one they lost.  Not a crushing defeat in the grand scheme of things and it is only one game.  The Saints are very good, especially at home and the Vikings really should not have to hang their head too much about coming back to Minnesota as a 0-1 football team.  Hopefully they have learned a few things in this defeat.  The first being that if it isn't broke don't fix it.  Adrian Peterson was having his way with the Saints defense and the Vikings had the lead at half time.  But, for some reason they came in the second half and were determined to go away from the run and chuck the ball all over the Superdome.  It was pretty obvious that the quarterback and the receivers have some timing issues to work on.  The offensive line again looked shaky with its pass blocking and with Bryant McKinnie leaving the game with a dislocated finger it made even more sense to try to run the ball.  But, the coach felt compelled to send in pass play after pass play with right tackle Phil Loadholt moving over to left tackle to try to cover Favre's blind side.  Lucky for the Vikings Favre survived because if you think the offense looked a little stagnant with Favre at quarterback imagine how it would go with our old buddy T-Jack in there – Yuck!

As far as the defense was concerned I thought they did a pretty good job of keeping the team in the game.  After the first touchdown things could have gotten out of hand in a hurry.  Although, Jared Allen can feel free to rush the passer anytime now.  I don't think he got anywhere near Drew Brees other than to shake his hand after the game.  Like I said though this is only one game and there are fifteen to go.  Let's hope they get everything figured out and put a good old fashioned beat down on the Dolphins this Sunday in the dome.

August 4th, 2010:   It must be football season if the Brett Favre watch is now on the front burner.  I can't say I am surprised after everything that happened last summer leading up to Favre putting on the #4 purple jersey.  I think I can understand some of the frustrations from the fans who really just want him to make up his mind.  Rumors came out earlier this week that he was sending up smoke signals about retiring – again.  As it turned out those were just rumors and he said today he still has not made up his mind, but that if his surgically repaired ankle would allow him to play he would in fact suit up for his 20th season of NFL Football.  In the end it is clear that he doesn't want to go to training camp and he proved last year he doesn't need it.  Last year I was in the group that thought he was being a drama queen and really could care less about the team.  I thought all he cared about was his consecutive games played streak and throwing the ball up for grabs as many times as humanly possible.  This year while I still believe that he has a complex with holding fans hostage over his yearly "should I play or should I retire" saga I have come to grips with the fact that he is the reason the Vikings won as much as they did last year and he's the reason they will have a chance to go to the Super Bowl in Dallas this coming February.  Looking ahead to this season the schedule is tough and with Favre at QB the Vikes still have a chance to win 12-14 games, without him they are looking at 9-10 wins and an early exit from the playoffs.  What we as fans have to realize is that when the Vikings brought him in they are getting the good and the bad.  While sometimes it makes us crazy it will more than likely be worth it in the end.

July 14th, 2010:  After leading the division for most of the first 2 ½  months of the season the Twins find themselves in third place in the American League Central at the All-Star break.  Chasing not only the consistent Detroit Tigers but now also the Chicago White Sox.  The Sox have overcome a dismal start to the season and head into the break as the hottest team in baseball and have surged into the lead in the division.  So, the big question is what is wrong with the Twins?  In my opinion it is all about the starting pitching.  Carl Pavano has turned out to be the only starter that has done the job on a consistent basis throughout the first half.  Kevin Slowey, Nick Blackburn, Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano have all struggled to put it together – especially on the road.  Several times in the last month they have given up three, four or in some cases many more runs in the first couple of innings.  The Twins offense is fairly potent but can't respond every night when they are in a 4-0, 5-0 hole right away.  I have to believe Twins management is trying to find the answers as they move into the second half.  Unfortunately one answer was trading for Cliff Lee but Texas snapped him up last Friday.  Roy Oswalt is still out there but as of yet nothing has happened.  They could tinker with the rotation by moving Brian Duensing in from the bullpen and moving either Slowey or Blackburn to the pen to try and figure things out.  That sounds like a stop gap but if the pitching doesn't improve drastically right out of the break the 3 ½ game deficit they are looking at now could become close to insurmountable very quickly.  Especially if they need to catch two teams.  Now the news has come out that the White Sox are the team most likely to trade for Oswalt.  It's time for the Twins to step up and offer some of their "precious minor league prospects" we keep hearing about and make the deal that could save this season. 

May 13th, 2010:  The Twins have reached a key part of their schedule even though it is only mid-May.  They are coming off of a productive home stand that saw them win six of nine games including a sweep of the Tigers who again look to be the biggest threat in the AL Central to the Twins.  Currently they have a three game lead over the Motor City Kitties and head to head with them they have won four out of six.  The Twins are ten games over .500 at 22-12 and look to be the class of the division. So, you ask what's the big problem?   Well, it has to do with the next couple of weeks.  The Twins open up a series Friday night in the Bronx against the Yankees.  Anyone who has followed the Twins the last few seasons know what a problem the Yanks pose for our favorite team.  Just take last year for instance.  The Yankees were 10-0 against the Twins in 2009 including a three game sweep out of the playoffs.  In a majority of these games not only did the Twins score first but in many of the games the Twins held the lead late in the game only to see the mighty Yankees rip their hearts off with walk off win after walk off win.  If I remember correctly the Yankees beat the Twins three times in a row at Yankee Stadium in their last at bat.  So, let's see if this years version of the Twins fare any better against the Yankees.  Chances are these two teams are on a collision course to meet each other again in October when it really counts.  It would be nice if the Twins could figure out a way to beat them now so at least they can get over the stigma of continually finding a way to lose to the Yankees.

April 15th, 2010:  Target Field is open the Twins are playing outdoor baseball under the sunshine, rain and whatever else Mother Nature can dish out.  I for one think it's awesome and about time!  There is a generation of baseball fans who have never seen the Twins play a home game outside.  They have been playing in the corner of a domed football stadium for 28 years.  I know many fans who refused to attend a baseball game at the dome even if the Twins were doing well. I have not been to a game yet, but from everything I have seen on television it looks like it was worth the wait.  There is not a place inside the park where you can't see the game and the ballpark has all of the bells and whistles to make it fan friendly for even most casual baseball fan.  I am sure that there will be some games lost to the unpredictable Minnesota weather but, there is nothing like watching a baseball game outside on a beautiful summer evening.  The icing on the cake for me is that the Twins appear to have a team that can contend and even make it to the World Series.  While that would be great it would be very interesting to see how that works out.  The World Series will have games in November and we could be buried in snow by then.

April 8th, 2010:  Now that the Masters is under way in Augusta and Tiger Woods has hammered his first tee shot right down the middle of the first fairway can't we all just get back to watching Tiger the golfer and leave all the off the course stuff alone?  I really think people/fans get way too caught up about what these athletes do away from what ever game they play.  After all, they are human beings and they do make mistakes not only in judgment but figuring out who they can trust vs. who they can't. In my opinion what these guys do off of the field/course should have no bearing on how they are viewed as a performer.  They live their lives under the public spotlight and have opportunities and temptations that many of us will never know.  The easy thing to say is it comes with the territory and with the kind of money they make they should have to put up with all of the attention, good and bad.  When it comes to Tiger I really think that what he does off of the course is absolutely his own private business.  If you really think about it we don't know these guys at all.  Who is a good guy, and who may not be such a good guy.  So, if you were a fan of Tiger Woods before all of these personal problems came to light then I think you should cheer for him now that he's back.  If you were not a fan of his before I am guessing you are not a fan now. I consider myself a fan of golf and I know the game is better when Tiger Woods is playing.     

March 17th, 2010:  Well, it wasn't quite the "miracle run" I mentioned a few weeks ago but the Gophers did enough in the Big Ten Tournament to be awarded with an at large bid in the NCAA Tournament.  They beat a bad Penn St. team and then all of the fun really started.  The Friday night overtime victory over a very good Michigan State Spartan team was clutch and then the Gophs blew the doors off of Purdue on Saturday afternoon.  I don't think even the most diehard of us Gopher fans saw that coming.  Not that they didn't have a chance to win a game against an injury depleted Boilemaker team, but to blow them out was really unexpected.  Sunday the dream of winning their first Big Ten Tourney came crashing down in the second half of the game against Ohio State.  But, they made enough of an impression on the tournament selection committee to get them in the big dance.  Good for Tubby Smith, good for the players and good for the fans.  The Gophers actually have a pretty favorable draw in the first round, they get Xavier and the game is in Milwaukee.  Many Gopher fans should make the trip to the beer city and Vegas actually has the Gophs as a one point favorite.  If they do get by the Muskateers they will most likely run into the Pitt Panthers on Sunday.  Most likely this will mean the end of the line, but even if it is I think we can call the end of this season at least a "mini miracle".  

February 26th, 2010:   I know this is not new news but after the Gophers lost yet another heartbreaker last night (Purdue 59-58) it is plain to see that barring a miracle they are not going to make the NCCA tournament and by all accounts this has been a very disappointing season.  After making the tournament last year the hopes were very high this year, but the year started out with two prize recruits being suspended and then in early January they lost their point guard (Al Nolen) due to poor grades.  It's just been "one of those years".  Earlier in the season they blew a huge lead to national powerhouse Michigan State and ended up losing by one point.  Then there were the very tough losses to Big Ten also bottom feeders Northwestern, Indiana on the road in overtime and a really bad loss at Williams Arena to a bad Michigan team.  It's hard to put a ton of blame on Head Coach Tubby Smith but I think he has to take his fair share.  Not much he can do about suspensions but when you look at some of the players on the roster namely Ralph Sampson and Colton Iverson who were part of last years promising freshmen class usually you would expect improvement heading into their sophomore year.  In both cases there have been some flashes but not nearly the consistency we all would hope for.  Maybe they will surprise us and go on a miracle run here at the end of the season, win the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis and storm into the NCAA's.  More likely they will finish with a slightly above .500 record and limp into the always second rated NIT tournament.  Too bad this was supposed to be a season to remember for a lot of good reasons and it turned out to be just the opposite.

February 5th, 2010:  Oh great it's Super Bowl weekend.  I know I should be really excited as a football fan, but as a Viking fan I would rather watch anything but the Super Bowl.  Even though the Colts and Saints should put on a great show and there is every reason to believe it will be a high scoring fun game to watch I'm still upset about the way the season ended for the Vikes.  I know, I know, its times to get over it and move on, but as a Viking fan I know the opportunity doesn't come along all that often. They have not been to the big one in 33 years and even though the they will still be good next year with or without Favre you never know if everything will fall into place and they will get another shot.  Strange things happen in the NFL.  Dan Marino led the Miami Dolphins to the Super Bowl very early in his career.  They lost to the 49ers that year and it was assumed that with Marino leading the Dolphins they would be back in the Super Bowl again, maybe even multiple times.  They never went back.  Marino went on to a Hall of Fame career but he never had another shot at the ultimate prize.  So, when the Super Bowl is over and the off season begins it will surely include all the talk about whether or not Favre will come back or retire.  If I had to guess right now I would say he would come back for another season.  Why not?  He said he likes his teammates, he knows the system and the coaching staff very well, and he has a chance to win big here.  But, either way the Vikings will have to know sooner than later.  Rumor is they would make an offer to the Philadelphia Eagles for Donavan McNabb.  If that's the case it would most likely happen before the NFL draft in April.  But, we have plenty of time for all of that speculation after the "big game". 

January 14th, 2010: The playoffs are here.  The Vikings are in and after crushing the Giants in the last game of the regular season they earned the week off.  Now they are set to host the Cowboys in the divisional round of the playoffs this Sunday at the dome.  Obviously home field advantage for the Vikes is key. They were 8-0 at home this season and 4-4 on the road. In fact they could even be called dominant at home in the last two months of the season.  They outscored their last five opponents at home during that stretch 172-46. They did stumble on the road late in the season and I really think the Vikings play much better at home and now they have a chance to prove it.  When they take the field Sunday they will know the result of the game between the Cards and Saints.  If the Cards win and the Vikings can beat the Cowboys then the NFC Championship game will be in Minneapolis on Jan 24.  That should be plenty of motivation for the Vikings.  These playoffs are the reason they have players like Brett Favre and Jared Allen.  Now is the time for the big players to play big.  On that note it sure would be nice if Adrian Peterson would show up too.  I realize the offensive line needs to open some holes for him but from what I have heard Peterson needs to get better at being patient and waiting for the holes to open.  If he could break a couple of long runs early that would really open up the rest of the offense.  The Cowboys have been one of the hottest teams in the league over the last few weeks and it seems like all of the national media "experts" are picking the Cowboys to come in and destroy the Purple.  If the Vikings want to keep the dream of going to Miami alive they need the big players to play big and the home crowd behind them.  Nothing like playoff football – this should be fun. 

December 4th, 2009:  Now that the Vikings have gotten through the three game home stand having thoroughly dominated three inferior opponents in the Lions, Seahawks and Bears outscoring them 98-29 is there any doubt that they are primed for a great December and ready to push full steam ahead into the playoffs?  They stand alone at the top of the NFC Central with a 10-1 mark and it looks like it's going to come down to the Vikings and the 11-0 Saints for the best record and the all important home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  After watching the Saints toy with the once feared Patriots the other night it is plain to see that they are a force to be reckoned with.  While watching that I couldn't help but wonder how the Vikings would match up with the high flying Saints.  I think the offenses are very similar in that they both can run the ball and throw the ball equally well.  I do however think the Vikings have the edge in defense.  I think their ability to stop the opposing offenses rushing attack and make them one dimensional is the key.  Assuming that would happen I think the Vikings could put more pressure on Drew Brees than he has seen so far this year leading to turnovers and giving the Vikings an advantage.  And even though both teams play in domes it is crucial for the Vikings to have a potential playoff game with the Saints at home.  The crowd in New Orleans is awesome and can make it very difficult for the opposing offense to function.  We may be getting a little ahead of ourselves but this team is starting to look as dominant as the 1998 Vikings were during the season.  Let's just hope if they get that far that the end result is a little different this time.

November 4th, 2009:  Nothing like beating the Packers in Green Bay to make a Viking fan feel good!  On top of the obvious bonus of beating your rival on their home turf it actually was a huge game in the standings.  Now the Vikings sit all alone at the top of the division at 7-1 at the midway point of the season.  They have swept the hated Packers and barring a complete collapse will win the division and can position themselves for home field advantage in the playoffs.  All of this talk did take a back seat to the hype leading up to the game about Brett Favre returning to the place he called home for 16 years.  There were a lot of boos, a few cheers and my personal favorite was the sign that read "Welcome back Ryan Longwell".  That's actually pretty funny.  But, as the game was drawing to an end and the outcome was no longer in doubt you have to wonder what Packer GM Ted Thompson was thinking as he was sitting in his suite all by himself.  He was the driving force behind pressuring Favre to make up his mind about coming back after the 2007 season.  Also remember that Thompson drafted Aaron Rodgers and in his mind Favre was done and it was time to turn the page.  Well, as things have turned out Favre is not done and while Rodgers has looked really good at times he doesn't seem to get the job done when it counts.  In fact his record as the starting quarterback for the Pack is 10-11.  I would have to believe if the Packers don't make the playoffs this year and the Vikings have success in the playoffs the pressure on Mr. Thompson will be mounting.  Looking at it from the Viking fan perspective it really couldn't get much better than to have the Vikings doing well and the Packers in turmoil.  But, they don't give out awards or trophies in November, so let's not get ahead of ourselves.  It is however fun and we should enjoy the ride.

October 22nd, 2009:  Well are you a believer now?  In Brett Favre that is.  Now that the Vikes are off the their best start in years maybe it's time for all of us, including me, to admit that signing the veteran qb who is as famous for his waffling as he is his game winning drives may have been a great move by the Vikings.  Even through all of the off season drama and the hurt feelings of the other quarterbacks on the roster it has turned out as good as anyone could have predicted.  I know there are still plenty of haters and doubters out there, in fact I know quite a few, but even they would have to admit the Vikings would not be 6-0 without Favre.  Chances are they would be a very average 3-3 or maybe 4-2.  They would not have beaten the 49ers or the Ravens and probably not the Packers.  I'm sure they would have gotten by the Rams, Browns and Lions, who by the way have a grand total of 2 wins combined but, in the other three games they definitely needed Favre.  I am not a fortune teller and maybe the same thing will happen to the Vikings this year that happened to the Jets last year.  Favre and the Jets started out 8-3 and looked like not only a playoff team but a team that could maybe challenge for a Super Bowl, but then Favre hurt his arm and the team faded to 9-7 and out of the post season completely.  Now the Vikings are 6-0 and if they can win their next two games and be 8-0 at their bye week some of the same talk will start up here in Vikingville.  First things first though, they play at Pittsburgh this Sunday, the defending champs are very good and it would be considered an upset if the Vikes are on the way home Sunday night celebrating a victory.  If they happen to pull that one out they have the daunting task of going to Lambeau to play the Pack the day after Halloween.  You have to believe number 4 is not going to be welcomed back with open arms by the cheddar heads. In fact the Mayor of Green Bay is trying to stir the pot by having the fans come up with ways to welcome back their former hero.  I heard one plan is to have a video montage of Favre interceptions playing on the jumbo-tron during the pre-game.  How Packer of them!  Real classy.  Just remember that in a few years after he really does retire these will be the same fans cheering him when the Packers retire number four and place it in their ring of honor next to Bart Starr's number 15.

October 7th, 2009:  What a great story the Minnesota Twins have become!  By beating the Tigers in arguably the most exciting game in Twins history they have completed a comeback that had never been done in the history of major league baseball.  The Twins were down 3 games with 4 to play and they came back and won the division.  Not only that but they won 17 out of 21 games down the stretch and even game back from a 3-0 deficit in the middle innings to win game 163.  This would not have been possible without  a major choke job by the Tigers.  They didn't play well down the stretch and Twins kept the pressure on them until they finally were able to force the one game play off game in the dome on Tuesday.  And what do the Twins get for winning you ask?  Well, they get to face the New York Yankees.  On paper this could not be more of a David & Goliath scenario. The Yankees are the best team money can buy, they have an all-star caliber player at every position and the only starter for the Twins who would crack their starting lineup is Joe Mauer.  The Twins are 0-7 against them this year and they have lost 22 of the last 25 played in New York.  But, just the same you have to give the Twins at least a punchers chance.  They are playing by far their best baseball of the year and if they can somehow win one of the first two games in New York the pressure will be on the Yankees.  For the Yankees anything short of winning the World Series is a failure.  So, let's see if the Twins can keep winning and see if David can slay Goliath.  To quote Joe Mauer from his interview after clinching the division "I wouldn't bet against us".

October 2nd, 2009:  Wow ! What a sports weekend on tap for fans of Minnesota sports teams.  First the Twins open the last series ever at the dome against the Royals on Friday night with still a slim chance of making the playoffs.  On Saturday the hated Wisconsin Badgers pay their first visit to TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota to take on the 3-1 Gophers.  And, if that's not enough, the Packers will be in town to take of the Vikings on Monday night.  Apparently there is history between the Vikings current quarterback and the Packers?  It should be a very exciting weekend but I am most interested to see how Mr. Favre reacts against his old mates.  Will he be the quarterback who for the most part this year has managed the team very well and not made mistakes.  Or will he turn back into the old gunslinger and throw the ball all over the field and hope his receivers come down with it?  He was rewarded when Greg Lewis made an outstanding catch at the back of the end zone against the 49ers last Sunday.  Hopefully the trend will continue because his luck could change very fast against the Pack.  Favre has a history of throwing the ball up for grabs and one would have to believe that the Packers have something special in mind for old number 4.  Mainly in the name of blitzing on every possible opportunity.  Favre has already been hit several times and we must wonder if this guy, who turns 40 next week, can take the punishment. It would be nice if the offensive line and Adrian Peterson can take some pressure off of him but, the Packers run the same 3-4 defense that the 49ers run.  AP didn't have one of his better days and it took a great drive and a miracle play at the end of the game to keep the Vikings undefeated.

If nothing else it should be good drama for us sports fans.  So, sit back and enjoy!

September 25th, 2009:   As the baseball season heads down the home stretch its fun to have the Twins playing meaningful games in September. It would really be great if they could finish this comeback off and make it into the post season. Even though it looks like if they did win the lowly American League Central Division they would head straight to New York and get thrashed by the Yanks. But, you never know. In 1987 they had a very similar situation; they won the division with a not so stellar 85-77 record then caught fire and won the championship. Having said that the odds are long and obviously as they stand today they still have to make up some ground on the Tigers just to win the division. Like any baseball season it's easy to look back on some of the games that got away and wonder if they could have pulled some of them out they would be in better position late in September. A couple examples come to mind such as the game in Oakland. The Twins were up at one point in the game 12-2 and somehow found a way to lose 14-13. Then there was the game recently against the White Sox. Twins up 2-0 in the 9th inning, the Sox were down to their last strike TWICE and the Twins still lost. But, over a 162 game season that is going to happen and we seem to forget the games they won when it looked like a loss. So, enjoy these last 10 games and let's hope they can make the last season at the dome a memorable one.

September 4th, 2009:  Ok, so now that Brett Favre is here and has played a couple of pre-season games what are we supposed to think?  I for one am still not used to seeing him in purple and probably will never get used to it.  But, the fact remains is that he's here and like it or not he's here to stay at least for one year, maybe two.  So, as Viking fans we had better get used to it.  That means taking the good with the bad.  He's going to throw terrible interceptions and I think we can all agree he's not the best team player.  There may not be a more self centered, egotistical, and all around bad teammate in the NFL.  Having said all that it is nice having a quarterback that can lead a team down the field in the last two minutes of the half or the game and put the ball in the end zone.  Our previous quarterback (Mr. Jackson) never really could master that.  In fact I think he perfected the deer in the headlights look when it came to that situation. So, as we close in on the opener in Cleveland we all better hope this pans out.  My opinion is that there will be no gray area here.  Favre will either lead the team to a great regular season and a long run in the playoffs or it will go up in flames.  By flames I mean losing record, major team dissension, coaching staff all losing there jobs and a complete melt down of the team.  If this was a poker game the Vikings have moved all of their chips to the middle and are betting on number 4.  If nothing else it should make for good theater.

August 17th, 2009:  I am sure many of you are excited to see that NFL Football is back.  I will be when it starts for real in the middle of September.  I am not a big fan of pre-season football or know by another name, Exhibition Football.  I prefer calling it what one of my friends named it many years ago, FAKE FOOTBALL!  In fact that's really what it is.  Starters play a quarter or two and then a bunch of guys who probably will never stick with the team finish the game.   There must be paint drying somewhere that needs watching.  The commissioner broached the idea this off-season of someday converting to an 18 game regular season and only have two fake football games.  I say the sooner the better.  The only possible good that comes from these fake games is that the coaching staff has a chance to look at some players he hopes he never has to use.  Weed out the good from the bad and get on with the games that count in September.  I know that injuries are part of the game and the coaching staff needs to look at some players to see if they can play if needed but, why play the veterans at all and risk injury in a meaningless game?  For example Bernard Berrian is going into his sixth year in the league and has a multi-million dollar long term contract.  He had a hamstring injury in the game against the Colts on Friday and had to be carted off the field.  Why was he out there at all?  Does the coaching staff really need to see if he forgot how to play the game?  Who knows, maybe he will be fine and end up having a great season, but a hamstring injury can linger and it may bother him the entire year.  And for what?  I think he and every other starter should be parked on the bench until the games are for real.  Let the second, third and fourth stringers go out there and beat each other up.  The NFL owners are part of this problem as well.  They charge regular season prices for this farce and expect fans to line up and fill stadiums around the country for games that don't count.  They should either donate the tickets to charity or let everyone in for a dollar. That way at least some people who for whatever reason can't get into see a real game have a chance to see some football, even if it is fake.  I will leave you with one more fun fact.  Last year The Detroit Lions set the all time record for futility by going

 0-16.  We all remember that.  They were 4-0 in the pre-season. Case closed.  

July 15th, 2009:  Now that we are at the All-Star break it seems like a good time to check in on The Minnesota Twins season.  This is the half way point and for the most part we should know if they have a chance to be a contender or a pretender in the second half.  This will determine if they are to be a buyer or a seller with the July 31 trade deadline looming.  The Twins are a very pedestrian one game over at 45-44 but only four games behind the front running Detroit Tigers.  They have three All-Stars in Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer and Joe Nathan.  One would think they are primed and ready for a real push at winning the division and making some noise in the post-season.  Well, if the past is any indication we may have to get used to the players we have on the roster as we speak.  The Twins historically have remained on the sidelines when it comes to bolstering the roster for a playoff push.  There have been a few exceptions, but I would be shocked if they pull off a deal like the Milwaukee Brewers did last year when they acquired stud starting pitcher CC Sabathia from the Cleveland Indians.  The scenario is very similar this year.  The Toronto Blue Jays are shopping Roy Halladay.  This is the kind of front line starting pitcher that every contender will covet.  Halladay has the honor of being the starting pitcher for the American League in the mid summer classic.  Some team will pay the price in prospects and get him.  Usually it's one of the big market teams that snap up these gems but the Brew Crew proved last year that it can be done by one of the "little guys".   And what do you know it worked!  The Brewers made the playoffs for the first time in 25 years and have carried the momentum over to this ye, , ar.  They are in second place in the NL West and have been a solid club all season long.  So, come on Twins, make a splash! What a great time to get some excitement brewing for the baseball fans.  A run in the playoffs this year heading into all the fun of moving into the new ballpark next year is really needed to keep the Twins somewhat on the front burner for the sports fan.  Because all that attention is going to change when "you know who" signs with the purple....   

June 17th, 2009:  The continuing story of Brett Favre to the Vikings has taken yet another turn.  Favre did an interview with FOX sportscaster Joe Buck this week and confirmed what has been speculated for weeks.  He does have interest in playing for the Vikings if his surgically repaired throwing arm will allow him to do so.  The Vikings have sent a trainer to Favre's home in Mississippi to evaluate his progress and suggest some exercises to help with the rehab.  I think all Viking fans are going to have to come to grips with the fact that like it or not he will be the quarterback for the Vikings this season.  As I mentioned before I really think a healthy Favre will be better than anything the Vikings have to throw out there at what is considered the most demanding position is all of pro sports.  I for one just hope the media hype and all the other distractions that come with having Favre as the quarterback don't get in the way of the fact that he's here to complete the puzzle and get the Vikings to Miami in February.  I think anything short of that will be a failure plain and simple. This move is much like selling your soul to the devil in the minds of many Viking fans, but they are not the only ones upset about the move.  To see the once idolized hero of The Green Bay Packers play for the arch rival Vikings is more than many Packer fans can handle.  Roll the clock back a few decades.  Can you imagine Fran Tarkenton playing for the Packers?  Or, Bart Starr playing for the Vikings?  No way right!  Well, times are different and who knows if this will work out.  One thing we can count on is that the Vikings will have, n, o trouble selling tickets and the media frenzy will be non-stop.  I just hope that the focus remains where it should be - winning games, in the NFL that's all that matters.

May 27th, 2009:  Enough is enough!  I don't know about you but I for one have had enough of performance enhancing drugs in all sports but especially baseball.  The most recent case in the headlines is the very popular outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers Manny Ramirez.  Man-Ram has long been a character of the game and has had a long history of doing goofy things on and off the field.  But, when he tested positive for steroids recently he just became another in a long line of cheaters.  Joining the ranks of Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmero and last but not least the king of the juice Mr. Barry Bonds.  There of course have been many others but these are the players/cheaters who immediately come to mind.  Baseball has finally started taking some steps to curb the problem but I think its way too little way too late.  Ramirez has recently begun serving a 50 game suspension after testing positive, but is that really enough?  I really don't think so.  I think it's time for baseball to draw a line in the sand and make a lasting statement that cheating will not be tolerated.  If I were the commissioner of baseball I would propose a lifetime ban for any play, , er testing positive for a banned substance.  On top of that the player will have his statistics stricken from the official record.  And to really make it sting fine the player the amount of what he earned while he was in the major leagues.  While this seems extreme keep in mind that players are forbidden from gambling on baseball fearing a lifetime ban.  Remember that it took an act that at the time sounded just as extreme by then commissioner Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis in the wake of The Black Sox scandal in 1919.  Many of the Chicago White Sox were charged and ultimately found not guilty of throwing the 1919 World Series in a scandal involved gamblers paying players to throw games.   Of course Landis saw what could happen if the integrity of game was ever questioned and with one fell swoop changed the game for the better.  He made the ultimate example of several White Sox.  They were banned for life from playing the game they love.  Funny how you don't hear too much about gambling in baseball anymore - Pete Rose not withstanding.  I think the same courage needs to be shown by today's commissioner Bud Selig.  Ban these cheaters and make the game better for today and more importantly tomorrow.  The integrity of the game is once again in question and it's up to the leaders of the game to take a stand and do the right thing.     

May 14th, 2009:  Will the real Joe Mauer please stand up?  If this "new version" of Joe is going to sticking around for awhile I think all Twins fans are going to be happy.  I know I will be because he has turned into the, run producing/middle of the order force that we all thought he could be.  Since coming back from injury on May 1 he has put up some very impressive numbers.  In two weeks time he has four homers, 14 RBI and is batting a smooth .455.  Now, it will be very difficult for him to keep up this pace, but if he can just come close to this kind of stretch and keep driving in runs it will no doubt make the team better in the long run.  He seems much more aggressive at the plate and the power numbers are starting to add up.  Mauer had some injury issues that kept him out of most of spring training and I think that may have something to do with this fast start.  Spring training can really drag on and the miles will pile up on a catcher faster than any other position. Hopefully Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire will be able to keep him from wearing down as the season drags on.  If he can find a way to keep his bat in the lineup by using him as a designated hitter at least once a week it could be the best of both worlds.  But, so far so good, keep up the good work Joe!  The Twins season depends on you.

May 5th, 2009: It sure is beginning to look like "Brett the Jet" will be bringing his all about me circus to Minnesota this season.  That's right Brett Favre coming to the Vikings.  How does that taste?  It is going to be hard to handle all of the drama that comes with him.  I'm sure if he does come back John Madden will change his mind about retirement. That's just , a no brainer.  Favre has asked for and was granted his unconditional release from the Jets.  If he really planned to stay retired he wouldn't need to do that.  Now there is word that his real motivation is revenge against the Packers.  The only logical home for him is Minnesota now that the Bears and Lions have addressed their quarterback issues.  Favre would get at least two chances to play against the green and gold and you know he would love to really stick it to them.  As much as I hate to admit it a healthy Favre would be better for one year only than the options the Vikes currently have.   Tarvaris Jackson proved last year that he is not competent and the newly acquired Sage Rosenfels has been a career back up for a reason. 

This really does make one think though.  Fast forward to Miami next February, the Vikings have finally won the Super Bowl after all of these years.  Now picture Favre in a purple number four holding up the Lombardi Trophy!  That may be enough to send most of us over the edge.  You'll have to excuse me I think I'm going to be sick.

April 27th, 2009: The Minnesota Vikings made a big splash in the NFL draft this weekend.  They took a chance in drafting the troubled but talented Percy Harvin, wide receiver from the University of Florida.  Harvin "could" be the player that finally opens up the offense and takes pressure off of Adrian Peterson.  The problem is young Percy's behavior.  He ha, d problems in high school and issues in college.  However the biggest problem may be the space between his ears.  He somehow managed to test positive for marijuana at the scouting combine in February.  He and every other player knew there was a drug test at the combine but he still tested positive.  That seems like the ultimate red flag but it's impossible to ignore his talent.  So, the combination of his overwhelming talent and the Vikings need for a receiver ultimately won out over the potential behavior issues that have occurred in the past.  That's the key - are these problems in the past?  Vikings coach Brad Childress made a trip to Florida last week to look Harvin in the eye and he saw enough to take a chance on him.  Time will tell if Harvin can put his past behind him, grow up a little, and become a star in the NFL.  If history does repeat itself then this could turn out very good for the Vikes.

They made a trade with The Philadelphia Eagles in 1990 for then troubled wide receiver Chris Carter.  Carter had substance abuse problems and that led to the Eagles giving up on him.  Carter went on to becoming a tremendous player for the Vikings for many years.  Eight years later the purple drafted Randy Moss out of Marshall.  He fell to them in the draft due to a number of off the field problems in college. Moss turned out to be one of the most explosive game changers in the history of the league.  If Percy Harvin turns out to be similar to Carter and Moss the Vikings will be labeled with the genius tag.  However, he will have plenty of money and time to get into trouble if he so chooses.  Coach Childress and the rest of the Vikings brass hope he joins the select group of reclamation projects (Carter & Moss) and fulfills his potential.  Only time will tell.   

April 21st, 2009: The Twins are two weeks into the season and it seems like a good point to make a few observations.  For the most part so far, so good.  There have been a few surprises and a few constants but as of today (April 21) they stand dead even at seven wins and seven loses.  Baseball is such a grind and , like I tell some of my fair weather/bandwagon friends it's a marathon not a sprint.  At this point they have split one series with Seattle, lost two of three in frigid Chicago against the hated White Sox, lost three of four to the surprising Toronto Blue Jays and this past weekend swept the beleaguered Los Angeles Angels.  The starting pitching has been a little shaky but watching Glenn Perkins pitch a total of 24 innings in three starts has been encouraging.  The other four have had their moments both good and bad but for the most part have been decent.  The middle relief has some issues and I think all of us who call ourselves Twins fans would agree that even before the season started that area was going to be the biggest question mark.  The one part of the relief pitching area that has not been a question is at the end.  Joe Nathan has been terrific at the end of the game.  If the Twins are leading after eight innings Nathan finishes the deal way more often than not.  He is on the short list of the best closer in all of baseball and the Twins are lucky to have him.  The hitting has been somewhat inconsistent but has shown some signs of late that they may be figuring it out.  Including but n, ot limited to Jason Kubal.  On Friday night against the Angles he became just the ninth Twin to hit for the cycle.  His grand slam homer capped off a comeback that turned a 9-4 deficit into a dramatic 11-9 win.  After that the Twins won Saturday's game comfortably behind the solid pitching of Kevin Slowey and Perkins pitched a gem Sunday to complete the first sweep of the Angels at the dome since 1996.  Couple this good news with the fact that All-Star Catcher Joe Mauer is on track to be back with the big club on or about May 1 and there is reason for optimism.  Although the return of Mauer shouldn't be seen as the second coming.  I for one have always thought he was at least a touch over rated.  I realize that when healthy he is capable of leading the league in hitting but when he was drafted out of St. Paul's Cretin High School he was touted as the next Johnny Bench.  While I know he is still young, I think he is a lot closer to a better version of the last Twins catcher to win a championship back in 1991. That's right good old Brian Harper - remember him?  He was a good hitting catcher who had a knack for coming through in the clutch.  Harper never won a batting title and he had some limitations defensively but he was dependable and consistent.  I think Mauer has the potential to be a hall of farmer but if he can't stay healthy he will never realize that potential and more importantly never be the consistent team leader that he needs to be. I know that this is not the "popular" opinion because Joe is homegrown talent, but until he can stay in the line up day in, day out, year in, year out there will still be some doubt that he can be the kind of once in a generation player the Twins thought they were getting.  Having said all of that it is plain to see that the Twins desperately need him b, ack behind the plate, and fast.  He will help the line up and everyone else will benefit by seeing better pitches with Mauer in the three hole.  After fourteen games the Twins are seven up and seven down.  So far that's good enough but they will need to pick up the pace to be a factor in The American League Central.   

April 14th, 2009:  Another Masters is in the books and we had to wait until Sunday but we were rewarded by a terrific last day at Augusta.  When the pairings were announced Saturday night it was revealed that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson would be paired together every golf fan had to feel like I did that they were probably both too far out of contention to make a serious charge at the leaders.  Well, for about an hour and a half on Sunday afternoon it looked like the guys at the top were going to come back to a charging Tiger and Phil.  These two battled through amen corner and both had chances down the stretch to put some real heat on Kenny Perry, Chad Campbell and Angel Cabrera.  However, after making birdie 16 Tiger then took himself out of contention with an errant tee shot on 17.  He went on to bogie not only that hole, but 18 as well and he will now have to wait until June at Beth Page Black to close the gap on Jack Nicklaus's record of 18 major wins.  While Tiger was making a mess of 17 and 18 Phil waited until 18 to bogie and take himself out of it.  That pretty much did it for the average golf fan.  Most o, f the casual fans who had settled in after Easter dinner either went outside to enjoy the afternoon by going for a walk, playing catch with the kids or like I did actually going to the course and playing some golf. 

The fact is, once the two icons of the game were finished and it was obvious neither Tiger or Phil would have anything to do with a green jacket presentation most of us went on with our afternoon.  I know the chance of Kenny Perry becoming the oldest major winner was supposed to keep us glued to the television, but it's still Kenny Perry.  It just wasn't enough.  And when Cabrera held off Perry and Campbell in a playoff to win his second major the old adage of "if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it does it make noise" comes to mind.  The TV crew covering the event even admitted that all of the attention was on the twosome of Tiger and Phil.  The two groups behind them were playing in relative obscurity but managed to keep it together while listening to the roars of the crowd just a couple of holes ahead of them.  So, credit goes to the big man from Argentina even though many fans were long gone when Trevor Immelman helped him squeeze into the best looking green jacket in the world.    

April 6th, 2009: The most wonderful time of the year?

Well, I would argue that this ten day period could be deemed the most wonderful time of the sports year.  What with the perfect storm of three major events taking place.  First we have the NCAA Men's basketball championship rolling through to Detroit. Final Four Saturday and the championship game on Monday night playing at Ford Field in Detroit.  I'm sure we all agree it's the most exciting event happening in the home of the historically woeful Lions.  While this signifies the end of the college basketball season there are new beginnings. 

Namely the major league baseball season, this starts for The Minnesota Twins Monday night inside The Metrodome against The Seattle Mariners.  Even though it doesn't seem much like baseball weather outside the calendar says it's time to embark on yet another 162 game, season.  There are plenty of reasons for optimism as the Twins start their final season in the dome.  They have arguably the best starting rotation in baseball and with the addition of new third baseman Joe Crede they should have enough offense to be playing meaningful games into October.  Completing the sports trifecta is the first of four majors on the PGA Tour.

The best golfers in the world will tee it up this week at Augusta National.  The Masters is without a doubt the crown jewel of professional golf.  With Tiger Woods serving notice at Arnie's place recently that he is all the way back from knee surgery, we have to ask the question yet again.  Can anyone compete on his level?  I think not!  If Tiger is on his game or even remotely close to his "A" game there isn't a player alive that can keep up with him.  Not Phil Mickelson, not Geoff Oglivie, not Padrig Harrington and certainly not noted choker Sergio Garcia. While it would be fun to see one of these guys or someone else challenge Tiger there is something to be said for watching the most dominant player of his time playing at his best.

I hope all of you sports fans enjoy this time of the year as much as I do and don't worry football fans.&, nbsp; The month of April even has a little taste for you.  The NFL draft takes place April 25, 26 in New York.         

Steve joined the FOX 47 Sales Team in December 2006.  He really enjoys working with local clients to develop a plan that will make television advertising affordable and effective.   He has nearly twenty years of direct sales experience and has fit in well with The FOX 47 Sales Team. 

Steve and his wife Lisa are natives of the La Crosse, Wisconsin area but have called Rochester home for more than twenty years.  They have raised twin boys (Sam and Tom) who are both off to college and their daughter Elizabeth is a student at John Marshall High School. 

Steve is an avid Minnesota sports fan and is looking forward to another season of winning football for the Minnesota Vikings on FOX 47.

Contact Steve directly at: 507-529-5150 or

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