It's a little chilly. There's a little breeze. But it's Opening Day, and that means it's glorious outside. Target Field is on its A-game as the Twins try to find theirs against the 6-0 Kansas City Royals.
I ride the light rail to work most days now. Aside from the big-city feel and camaraderie of riding the train (inside joke for Clarence Swamptown), it’s economical, easy and relaxing. While it might occasionally lead to dangerous happy hour decisions since I don’t have to drive, those are the breaks for everyone.
This is not a commercial for Metro Transit. Rather, it’s the start of a story about riding the train into work Thursday morning last week. I take the Blue Line, which twists right around the new Vikings stadium and offers striking glimpses of the progress being made on that new facility.
On this particular Thursday, “Frozen” on ice was happening at Target Center, and the train had a lot of little kids riding with their parents for a morning production. (Side note: Why are animated movies generally the ones that get the “on ice” treatment? I’d pay good money to see “The Big Lebowski On Ice” or “Back to the Future On Ice,” for example).
But anyway: lots of kids on the train, including two very adorable little girls riding with their mom a couple seats away from me. I’d guess they were maybe 4 and 6 years old. We got to the part of the ride where the Vikings stadium came into view, and all three of them marveled at the sheer size of it.
“What is that?” one of the girls asked her mom.
“I don’t know,” she replied.
A fellow passenger piped in, “That’s the new stadium where the Vikings are going to play,” adding that it will cost $1 billion to build.
They marveled again, and the mom said, “Well, they’d better do well because that looks pretty nice.”
“They probably won’t,” another rider said.
I remain struck by this conversation days later for a couple of reasons:
1) This building I’ve seen basically every weekday for a year, which I’ve toured and taken for granted, is not central to everyone’s life (even if it is the “People’s Stadium”). Some people who live here don’t even know it exists.
2) The idea that a team has a responsibility to perform well in a publicly funded palace shouldn’t be novel, but it still gave us an insight into how some people think of this new stadium. Those of us who cover Xs and Os tend to focus on the Vikings relative to the rest of the NFL, but to some they’re a part of the community that needs to represent Minnesota. If we’re going to do nice things for them, they owe us at least that.
3) The zinger at the end by the pessimistic fan. Classic Minnesota. Even when talking to two girls who clearly have zero perspective on the heartbreak of the past, the fan is passing along the history.
You can’t help but shake your head and laugh at the warped, broken and annually rebuilt fan base. In 2016 the stadium will open. And maybe next year, everything will finally come together for the Vikings.
We’re six games into this MLB season — 1/27th of the way through the year — and already everything feels all-too-familiar for a Twins team that will make its home debut Monday afternoon. They will do so in front of a crowd that should be excited to have baseball back but one that is also growing increasingly impatient or apathetic, depending on who you talk to.
It only took a week into the regular season for the starting pitching, thought to be a strength of this team, to appear in disarray again. Ervin Santana’s suspension 10 days ago was a huge blow, but even if Erv was in the rotation right now we’re not sure how much of a difference it would make.
Maybe, instead of being dead last in MLB in starters’ ERA (6.61), just like they were last year (5.06), the Twins would be 27th or so?
Regardless, when Trevor May takes the hill today, he will represent the second starting pitcher this season ushered into the rotation as a replacement from the original plan. First, Mike Pelfrey took Santana’s spot to start the year (and couldn’t hold a 4-0 lead Saturday). Now, May fills in for last year’s big free agent splash, Ricky Nolasco, who is on the disabled list already.
Trotting out new arms is almost as familiar as having starters fail, and the two go hand in hand. Last season, 12 different starters made at least three starts. In 2013, 10 different pitchers made at least eight starts.
Credit the Twins for trying to solve that problem by acquiring Santana. Phil Hughes, Kyle Gibson, Nolasco, Santana and Tommy Milone at least had the potential to give the Twins a chance to win on most nights.
But after years of failure, effort only gets you so far. Results are what really matters, and just one week into the season, they have been far too similar to the patterns of failed years past.
We’ll take a daily look at some of the most talked about prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft and tell you whether they’re worth the hype or not.
We start this series with a prospect that many didn’t know about until his pro day, Central Florida wide receiver Breshad Perriman. If you did know him before his pro day, it was likely due to a Hail Mary catch he made to defeat East Carolina last year.
If you knew Perriman before that, it was likely due to the attention Central Florida received two years ago during their Fiesta Bowl run with Blake Bortles at quarterback. If you knew him before that, then you watch a lot of American Athletic Conference football or must be a Central Florida fan.
He’s also the son of Brett Perriman, who was drafted in the second round in 1988 and spent 10 seasons in the NFL.
By the Numbers:
Freshman (14 games): 26 receptions, 388 yards, three touchdowns
Sophomore (12 games): 39 receptions, 811 yards, four touchdowns
Junior (13 games): 50 receptions, 1,044 yards, nine touchdowns
That would be an average of 20 yards per catch in both his sophomore and junior seasons. While he was without Bortles, who went to the NFL last year, Perriman became the first receiver in school history with 1,000 yards since 2006 as a junior. He’s clearly a big play threat with good size at 6-2 and 212 pounds.
Combine/Pro Day results:
40-yard dash: 4.24 and 4.27 seconds
Bench press (225 pounds): 18 reps
Vertical: 36 ½ inches
Broad jump: 10 feet, 7 inches
Perriman had the most talked about pro day this year. His name blew up last month due to a reported 4.24 and 4.27 40-yard dash times. That would’ve tied running back Chris Johnson’s 4.24 as the fastest combine 40-yard dash time. Speed kills, guys.
Bad hands are a killer, too. Look, you didn’t need to see Perriman in tights and a compression shirt to see that he’s fast. On go routes, he was consistently on top of the defender, even if his tape was mainly against AAC opponents. He can fly down the field, but he has a tough time catching the ball.
Per Pro Football Focus, Perriman had a 14 percent drop rate. That’s my problem with the draft evaluation process and draft analysts. You raise a player from a Day 2 pick into the first round, and in ESPN’s Mel Kiper’s case in the top 10 of your latest mock draft, because he ran fast at his pro day. But how much are you docking for all those drops, you know the most important element of playing wide receiver?
The concerning part is that Perriman is open on these drops. If he’s struggling with that against mainly AAC talent, how will fare with a NFL cornerback all over him? It doesn’t mean anything if you can burn by a cornerback but can’t catch the ball. This sounds so obvious but yet it gets overlooked somehow.
Perriman is like a few other big name receivers in the draft, like West Virginia’s Kevin White and Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong, that has raw ability and will need to improve significantly as a route runner. Perriman might be a one-trick pony during his first season as he attempts to put it all together in the NFL but his inconsistency is a red flag for me.
If a team seeks a deep threat in this draft, I’d take Ohio State’s Devin Smith over Perriman. Smith is quick with good hands and does a great job locating the ball in the air on deep passes. While Kiper thinks of him as a top 10 player currently, he’s not a top five wide receiver in this draft in my book. There’s some other solid receivers in this draft to take such a gamble on Perriman, especially if he does actually fall in the first round.
But, hey, speed kills right?
Verdict: Don’t believe the hype.