Welcome to the first and quite possibly the last installment of the “Hot Five,” a gimmick I have cooked up solely for today because there are a lot of “talkers” in the world of sports right now. I spent at least 2 minutes on that graphic, so you had better appreciate it. Let’s go:
ONE FLAME: The Wild. In a lot of weeks, the Wild locking up a bunch of players and nabbing free agent Mike Reilly might be bigger news. Then again, aside from Reilly and some depth guys, Minnesota doesn’t figure to be changing its roster much. The biggest move was retaining Devan Dubnyk. The biggest question is whether a full season with a settled goaltending situation will prove the Wild is an elite NHL team or whether Chuck Fletcher’s assembled group belongs solely in the Hall of Good.
TWO FLAMES: Major League Soccer’s awkward dance with both of the Twin Cites. Suddenly bringing St. Paul into the stadium mix feels like a misdirection and a shakedown of Minneapolis, but maybe that’s just me. MLS barely gave Minneapolis time to get its funding figured out and doesn’t have a lot of viable options. St. Paul might be a fine spot for a stadium, but right now it seems as though MLS is akin to a poker player deep into a pot with an inside straight draw and only one card left to see.
THREE FLAMES: The Wolves’ embarrassment of talent riches. OK, OK. A 16-win team cannot have too much talent. But Nemanja Bjelica, the EuroLeague MVP, appears to be on the way and will add to an intriguing mix. They have too many good players! They need to trade some!
FOUR FLAMES: Women’s World Cup semifinal madness. The 2-0 U.S. victory over Germany on Tuesday turned out to be just a warm up for the heartbreaking feast Wednesday, when an own goal by England in stoppage time gave Japan a 2-1 victory and set up a rematch of the 2011 Cup final. England: Soccer :: Vikings: football. I mean, that was Nate Poole times 100.
FIVE FLAMES: Miguel Sano called up by the Twins. Dingers. More dingers. Taters. Byron Buxton is a five-tool gazelle, and it was a jolt of electricity to watch him fly around the bases and the outfield a few times before he got hurt. Sano does one thing. He hits the ball a long way. A home run is five tools in one swing. You can use that. I just made it up.
Thus concludes the first and perhaps only edition of the Hot Five.
Chad Greenway jumped on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Wednesday, discussing a wide range of topics during the slowest period in the NFL. Among some of the click-bait questions, the linebacker was asked whether running back Adrian Peterson can still win an NFL MVP award.
“Yes. Why not?” Greenway responded. “It’s Adrian. He can do anything. I still tend to lean towards the fact that we’ve gotten so much preseason publicity is because of our quarterback. Unfortunately for running backs, it’s just like the 4-3 outside linebacker, it’s an undervalued position. As good as he is and as great as he’s been and as good as he can be this year, publicity wise in the NFL it’s driven by quarterbacks. If you don’t have a good one, you don’t have much of a chance.”
While, yes, it is true that the running back and 4-3 outside linebacker positions have been devalued in today’s NFL, Peterson is in a category of his own. There’s a reason why the Vikings wanted to keep him around after all the off-the-field headlines over the last year. Peterson is valuable, and it’s hard to see him not having a good season after playing just one game in 2014.
Peterson won the league’s MVP honors in 2012 in his return from a torn ACL the previous season to rush for 2,097 yards, averaging six yards per carry, and 12 touchdowns. Who knows whether Peterson, 30, will come eight yards short of the NFL’s single-season rushing record this year, or possibly even shatter Eric Dickerson’s record set in 1984 (2,105 yards), but Peterson was in excellent shape when he returned to Winter Park for OTAs and minicamp.
It’s a nice tandem the Vikings have offensively with Peterson and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, and it’s clear from Greenway’s comments that Bridgewater has gained the attention and respect from the locker room based on his play last year. Even if Peterson doesn’t win MVP, it should be a fun offense to watch if those two key pieces stay healthy.