Local

Buffer strip bill has support from sports groups, opposition from farmers

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/10/2015 - 20:34
An ambitious plan requiring 50-foot grass strips to protect nearly all state waters draws strong support and opposition.
Categories: Local

Proposed trapping restrictions aimed at protecting dogs

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/10/2015 - 20:19
The DNR and dog owners back the plan to add new regulations, but trapping advocates oppose it.
Categories: Local

Portgame: 'Puerto Rico Day' carries Twins to victory

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/10/2015 - 17:36
Vargas shows patience, Rosario pitch recognition as they both hit home runs off R.A. Dickey
Categories: Local

Vikings find their veteran quarterback in Shaun Hill

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/10/2015 - 15:43
The Vikings have found their new veteran backup for starter Teddy Bridgewater. Shortly after the start of free agency, the Vikings agreed to terms with 35-year-old quarterback Shaun Hill, according to a league source. Hill spent last season with the St. Louis Rams. The Vikings were in need of a new backup after agreeing last week to trade Matt Cassel to the Bills. They zeroed in on him Saturday, when teams were first allowed to speak with soon-to-be free agents from other teams, and finalized the deal a little bit ago. Terms of the deal are not yet known. Hill was supposed to be the backup to Sam Bradford in St. Louis last season, but he ended up starting eight games after Bradford suffered a season-ending injury during the preseason. Hill threw eight touchdown passes and seven interceptions while going 3-5 as a starter. Hill will return to Minnesota, where he began his career in 2002 as an undrafted free agent. He also has a history with offensive coordinator Norv Turner from their time together in San Francisco. In 13 NFL seasons, mostly spent as a backup quarterback, Hill has completed 62.2 percent of his passes for 8,038 yards, 49 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. He has an 85.5 career passer rating. What’s left to be done for the Vikings? Check out their to-do list in our free agency tracker.
Categories: Local

$2 beers a reality at Target Field in 2015 -- with a catch

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/10/2015 - 15:42
The Twins announced Tuesday that a new a Barrio-branded bar will take the place of the merchandise shop below the Budweiser Roof Deck in the left field corner of Target Field. Barrio, of course, is a popular tequila bar that opened in Minneapolis in 2008. The bar in Target Field will have plenty of amenities, including a 420-square foot video display circling the top of the bar. “Given the popularity of the many restaurant and bar areas at Target Field, we know Barrio will be a draw for people who not only love baseball, but those who come to Target Field to connect with their friends, family or business associates,” Twins President Dave St. Peter said. But the real story, at least to thirsty and thrifty Minnesotans: $2 beers and rail drinks will be a reality at Target Field, which usually sets drink prices at four or five times that number. Yes, from 5:30 to 6:30 on Thursday nights at Barrio before games, the bar will host a “Thirsty Thursday” happy hour with drinks for just two bucks. Fans who love to drink and love to complain about the high prices of drinks at Target Field should find some relief during that hour. That said, we took a glance through the home schedule and only found five Thursday night games at Target Field all season — and just one before July, on April 30. Plan your consumption accordingly.
Categories: Local

Vikings hang on to Berger with a two-year contract

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/10/2015 - 15:27
The Vikings are bringing back guard Joe Berger for two more years, according to a league source. The Vikings and Berger agreed to terms on a new contract moments before the start of free agency at 3 p.m. CDT. Terms of the deal are not yet known, but he will be under contract through 2016. Berger has spent the past four seasons with the Vikings after previously playing for the Dolphins and Cowboys. The Michigan native has appeared in 61 games for the Vikings, making 18 starts. It is unclear if the Vikings see Berger, who will turn 33 in May, as a starter in 2015 or if they want him to resume his role as a valuable backup. He ended up starting nine games in that role in 2014. The Vikings released starting left guard Charlie Johnson last month, leaving a void at the position. They have been linked to former Bengals guard Clint Boling, but he may be out of their price range. Reserve guard Vlad Ducasse, who is now officially a free agent, is not expected to return in 2015. Berger was a priority, though, because he is capable of playing all three interior offensive line spots. What’s left to be done for the Vikings? Check out their to-do list in our free agency tracker.
Categories: Local

Bergenheim on fourth line; Injury updates; Dumba does to Duby what he did to Varly

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/10/2015 - 14:06
The Wild looks to avoid consecutive losses for the first time since January tonight against the Devils
Categories: Local

Peterson flies to NYC to meet with Wilfs, Spielman

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/10/2015 - 13:44
Running back Adrian Peterson traveled to New York yesterday for a meeting with Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf and General Manager Rick Spielman, a team source confirmed. The source said the meeting was the next step in the dialogue between Peterson and the organization. Last week, Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer flew to Houston to meet with Peterson at his home there. That meeting, which both sides thought was productive, lasted about four hours. The Vikings had been limited in their communications with Peterson while he was suspended, due to NFL rules. But now that he is back on the commissioner’s exempt list, which is keeping him in limbo with the league, anyone in the Vikings organization is able to talk with Peterson. The timing of yesterday’s meeting is noteworthy because the league year starts today at 3 p.m. CDT. Soon, teams will be able to officially sign free agents from other teams and they will also be allowed to resume making trades. Peterson has not publicly requested a trade or to be released. Peterson’s future with the Vikings has been uncertain since he was charged with child abuse in September and placed on the exempt list. Peterson said last month that he felt “uneasy” about a possible return to the Vikings, citing a perceived lack of support from the organization. The Vikings, meanwhile, have been maintaining publicly that they would like Peterson to remain on the team this season. That included a public endorsement from Mark Wilf last month. The Wilfs got their chance to tell Peterson how they felt yesterday. We’ll see what happens next. USA Today first reported yesterday’s meeting between the Vikings and Peterson.
Categories: Local

Twins make 2-hour trip, so their lineup is young

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/10/2015 - 11:34
It's become a Florida tradition: Veterans don't make the longest bus rides. Dunedin, about 120 miles from the Twins’ camp in Fort Myers, is the longest trip north the Twins make.
Categories: Local

Gophers report: Sizing up the no-huddle offense; thoughts on Jeff Jones

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/10/2015 - 11:31
The Gophers head into their fourth practice session of then spring Tuesday, ready to continue working on the no-huddle offense.
Categories: Local

Cassel was ideal; Hill fits the changing circumstance

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/10/2015 - 11:30
We all like to spend Zygi Wilf’s money and gobble up Rick Spielman’s salary cap room because, well, we like football,  we have a Twitter account and we got a few moments to kill before lunch. Plus, we’re all smarter than billionaires, coaches and GMs, right? But it does help to at least acknowledge that we, the obsessed masses of NFL followers, don’t always take a step back and realize there might be a 141st character or more that’s needed to see the entire puzzle. And, believe it or not, that puzzle has pieces that won’t be tweeted about for months, even years down the road, assuming Twitter doesn’t give way to something more annoying advanced. We know the Vikings need a playmaker at strong safety to put next to the playmaker they already have at free safety. The Vikings showed interest in Devin McCourty. That interest disappeared when the price tag rose until the Patriots ultimately paid $22.5 million in guarantees and $30 million in the first three years. Yes, the Vikings have cap space. But they’re also heading toward big paydays for a line of young first-round draft picks that is seven deep. The first one in that line is that playmaking free safety, Harrison Smith, who could surpass McCourty’s deal this time next year if he has a great season, which is expected of Smith. Let’s shift to the quarterback position. To me, it’s the top priority in free agency. Even ahead of left guard, although I’d be working on the two of them simultaneously. Matt Cassel was the ideal backup quarterback. I’d have kept him and paid the $4.75 million because I’m not convinced Bridgewater is sturdy enough physically to not get hurt and miss at least a game or two. And, if you take a leap of faith and assume that Adrian Peterson has one more season in purple, I’d want a smooth transition to Cassel if Bridgewater gets hurt. I also think Bridgewater is a keeper who will only get better, but that’s not guaranteed. I also get stuck on the fact the Vikings paid $2 million to rent Josh Freeman for about three months — and one miserable start in his only outing — just two years ago. But I do understand that the team was a whole lot more desperate for a starting quarterback two years ago. It was obvious the Vikings have half or more of Cassel’s pay this season earmarked for something else. Since teams can roll cap space from year to year, perhaps that money will end up in Smith’s pocket next year. It doesn’t hurt that the Vikings packaged Cassel and a sixth-round pick to Buffalo for a fifth-rounder this year and a seventh next year. Not a bad return considering the Bears could only get a fifth-rounder for one of the league’s more dangerous receivers. Now, the Vikings have targeted Shaun Hill. And the feedback I’m hearing from people is he’s not good enough. They wanted Brian Hoyer or another higher-profile name. But those are the guys who cost more and have more leverage. To chase them would defeat the decision to trade Cassel. Hill began his career with the Vikings as an undrafted rookie in 2002. Then-coach Mike Tice, a Maryland guy, loved Maryland guys. A lot. In five years with the Vikings, Hill appeared in one game. His last with the team. He took two kneel downs in a season-ending win over the Bears. About 15 minutes later, Wilf fired Tice in the locker room. So long, Shaun. Now heading into a 14th NFL season, Hill is 35 with 46 starts. Weighing the Vikings’ obvious decision not to overpay a backup, Hill also is the best fit for the Vikings. He is 23-23 as a starter, including 3-5 with the Rams a year ago. He was hurt in the season-opening loss to the Vikings, but also returned and beat Peyton Manning and the Broncos in his first game back. He posted a 102.7 passer rating while completing 20 of 29 passes in that game. And besides being cost effective and experienced, he also spent a year in San Francisco with current Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Hill has other teams chasing him. Assuming the price tag stays more reasonable than Cassel’s, he’s the right fit for the situation.
Categories: Local

Tuesday (Adrian Peterson and the value of draft picks) edition: Wha' Happened?

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 03/10/2015 - 09:33
The Vikings can officially trade Adrian Peterson today. Six months ago, that would have sounded crazy. Now, it’s a practical question to wonder if the Vikings are going to, in fact, trade the player who was the face of the franchise for so many years — and to wonder, too, what they might get in return. It’s in that second part that we delve into a strange meditation on the relative value of draft picks, not just in the NFL but in all four of the major U.S. men’s pro sports leagues. ESPN’s John Clayton said on the radio Monday that he thinks Peterson would fetch a fourth-round pick in a trade. That’s it — and that’s the best-case scenario, per Clayton. To a Vikings fan, particularly one who hasn’t paid much attention to the ways of the modern NFL, that might seem as absurd as the notion of trading Peterson would have been before this past year happened. To be sure, it’s just the opinion of one man. But it’s probably pretty accurate based on the value of LeSean McCoy. Brandon Marshall, a talented wide receiver, fetched a fifth-round pick in a trade with the Jets. What’s hard to wrap one’s head around, at times, is how much the value of a draft pick changes from league to league — and from generation to generation. Here’s our attempt at assigning value, when it comes to trades: In the NBA, a top-five pick is gold. A lottery pick is valuable. A first-round pick is useful. A second-round pick? Depends on how you use it, but it’s largely used as a throw-in when it comes to trade value. And that’s it. There are only two rounds. If you want to crack an NBA roster, you had best be the elite of the elite. In the NHL, a first-round pick is gold. A second- or third-round pick is valuable, but not as much so as in the NFL. These are the picks that fetch valuable rental players in deadline trades. Beyond that, depth can be found but the odds get longer. In the NFL, it feels like every draft pick has value. First-round picks are of course the gold standard. Second-round picks are still blue-chip talents. Third-round picks routinely become NFL starters. Fourth-round picks might be projects, but they are still valuable. Same for fifth-round picks. Sixth- and seventh-round picks can be marginal, but they still have value. In MLB, who knows? First-round picks are obviously valuable, but because MLB does not allow the trading of regular draft picks, it’s hard to assign value. Also, the draft is absurdly long, still — 40 rounds — and players might be picked far lower than expected because of the threat they will go to college. What we do know is that draft picks in all four leagues have grown increasingly valuable because of the trend in every league toward controlled salaries for younger players until they reach a certain level of service time. Still, what it mean in the context of Peterson, to us, is this: If all the Vikings could really get for him is a fourth-round pick, he clearly has more value in a football-only context in purple than in a trade. A generation ago, Herschel Walker fetched three No. 1 picks and three No. 2 picks, among other things. Peterson apparently can’t even garner one of either of those. If a Peterson deal is made, it won’t be for value. It will be for a fresh start on both sides.
Categories: Local

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