The Twins have played two games this season, both against very good pitchers for the Tigers (David Price and Anibal Sanchez). Minnesota countered with Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco. Hughes was very good last year; Nolasco was not. In both cases, the opponent had the upper hand going into the matchup — enough so that an e-mailer sent in this thought:
I’d say Paul Molitor failed his first test of thinking out of the box. He should have thrown his 4th or 5th starter on opening day against Price. You figure on giving up that game, but now you come back with your #1 starter against Detroit’s #2 starter, etc. The problem is that if the Twins keep matching up Hughes against other team’s #1 starter and Nolasco against the other team’s #2 starter, etc, you are underdogs almost every game and guaranteed to have another 90-loss season. In a sport where winning 58% of your games probably puts you in the playoffs you should be willing to be big underdogs in one game to have a slight edge in the next 3-4 games. Won’t happen, but is actually the best chance for the Twins.
A little intriguing. A lot desperate. This is what it has come to already for some fans.
I wrote Monday about reasons for optimism. But pretty much every bit of worry that fans had about this team has played out so far. Hughes was mortal on Monday. Nolasco was rocked Wednesday. Tim Stauffer, out of the pen, was no better Wednesday. The offense, which had the potential to regress, has been largely lifeless. The outfield defense contributed to the Wednesday misery when Torii Hunter couldn’t flag down a ball in the gap and Jordan Schafer made two mistakes when the Tigers were blowing the game open. Energy-wise, the team seems a little sapped by the still-fresh Ervin Santana news. In short, a team that could have used a positive early jolt has received the exact opposite.
And yes, it’s just two games. If this was an NFL season, it wouldn’t even be the end of the first quarter of Game 1. If these were games 122 and 123 this season, the griping wouldn’t be as loud.
But it feels and looks like more of the same.
The Vikings invited local media for a tour of the construction site of their new downtown stadium and the stadium preview center today. The team has taken free agents on similar tours, too.
While a glimpse at the new stadium site wasn’t enough to convince defensive end Michael Johnson, the most notable free agent to visit, to sign with the Vikings, owner and team president Mark Wilf said he feels the prospect of the new stadium can be used as a potential recruiting tool.
“I think it makes a difference with the players,” Wilf said. “They’re starting to see what’s coming here. And a lot of great things are happening on the field with the coach and the team and I think that this building is part of something exciting that we’re building. It certainly helps. It certainly helps.”
This time a year ago, construction crews were finishing the demolition of the Metrodome.
Today, the Vikings and stadium officials said that construction of the new stadium is 50 percent complete, with more than $400 million of project funding having been put to use. The construction remains on track for the new stadium to be built and ready to go in time for the 2016 preseason.
And the Vikings can’t wait to show the world, including future free agents, the finished product.
“It’s a building that all Minnesotans and all Vikings fans are going to be super proud of. It’s a great building,” Wilf said. “I think it’s going to be a building that’s really going to wow the American sports public and the world. It’s a venue we’re really proud of.”
When it comes to professional sports in the United States, it has generally been accepted that there are four major leagues: The NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB. Major League Soccer can stake a claim as the fifth major league based on attendance and increasing interest level. But every other pro league, men’s or women’s, just doesn’t consistently capture the attention of a mass audience enough to be considered part of this group.
In this market, we have all four of the accepted major sports teams, with a fifth in MLS scheduled to arrive in a few years. For now, it’s the four. The last three teams to make it to the postseason among those four were:
*The 2014-15 Wild, which clinched a playoff spot last night.
*The 2013-14 Wild, which made it to the second round.
*The 2012-13 Wild, which ended a playoff drought.
The Vikings have won 12 combined games the past two seasons and started over at the two most positions: quarterback and head coach.
The Twins have endured four consecutive seasons of at least 92 losses, and many projections have them headed for a fifth.
The Timberwolves haven’t been in the postseason since 2004, and even though this iteration of a rebuild has some potential, the franchise overall is stuck in the mud.
When it comes to recent success, it’s the Wild … and that’s it. By 2017 or so, that could be a lot different. But for now, local omnivore fans — those who consume all the sports equally and ravenously — should be thankful to at least have the Wild. If the Wild was still mired in that funk of mediocrity it endured during four playoff-free seasons between 2009-12, this truly would be a major pro sports wasteland.