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INDEPENDENCE…. The MLB baseball season has kicked off and if there is one sport I love almost as much as hockey it is baseball. I only pull for two clubs, the Twins and Cards, but I have followed some of the famous and legendary teams as well so this story on this LA Dodgers 2nd year player caught my attention. Outfielder Yasiel Puig was late for work on opening day at Dodger Stadium and manager Don Mattingly promptly benched him. I only have one question for this kid; you are making $2mil for playing ball this year and you are playing on opening day at Dodger freaking Stadium and you live there and have played there before, how in the heck do you show up late for opening day at Dodger Stadium?? I would superglue him to the bench for the rest of the year!
THE WISCONSIN BADGERS MENS basketball team made the Final Four and lost on Saturday in their semi-final game to Kentucky by a 74-73 cliffhanger. Being Minnesotan to the absolute core I have long been aware of the keenly intense rivalry between the Northstar State and the Cheeseweasels. To be exact there has to be some pretty extreme circumstances for me to be cheering for anything Wisconny. But hey, no UK fan am I either and I just happen to be even less for UK then the Cheese. So Saturday eve I was pulling for the Badgrrrrs to oust the Cats from the tourney. They lost.
Sunday I was at a convenience store getting coffee and here was a guy totally decked out in Wisconny gear. I of course, had on some Minnesota Maroon and Gold. We came eye to eye at the coffee bar and it was almost like two medieval jousters about to mount their steeds. This guy was in a total zombie trance as if the game had just ended moments earlier. After a few seconds of silent staring I said, for the first time in my life I was pulling for you guys last night. He barely looked up and replied, well, don’t ever do that again. Then he was gone….
SPEAKING OF LOS ANGELES, the Minneapolis-LA Lakers have had tons of success over the years. And to go along with that success, or rather to obtain it, they have always had one big star, sometimes two, to help run them through their trophy eras. It started in the “Minneapple” with big George Mikan, then from there they had Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Magic Johnson and then the Kobe Bryant era and many more good supporting players. You could say that their only two real big stars at this time are Bryant and Steve Nash, both of whom are banged up and nearing the end of their careers. Kobe is not “old“, but this guy has a lot of basketball “miles” on him and so does Nash.
Their drafting and free agent signings haven’t yielded much lately, so, with these two splendid players near the end, who do the Lakers have to take over or are they in for a string of poor seasons before they can rebuild? Did Phil Jackson know it was “time”?
THE MINNESOTA TWINS have kicked off the 2014 campaign by dropping 2 of 3 at the Chicago White Sox and then traveled to Cleveland to take 2 of 3 from the Tribe. The highlight by far of the young season was Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire getting victory 1,000 against the Indians. He is the 60th Major League manager to do so and only one of 4 active managers. “Gardy” takes a lot of heat from the fans when the club struggles, but in my book those struggles have been more roster and front office initiated then by poor managing. At the end of last season it looked as if the Twins might part ways with him but then struck a deal to bring him back. I believe that if he has the talent he will win games for you….
ARE THE TWINS grooming bench coach Terry Steinbach as an eventual successor to Gardenhire? Count me as one fan who thinks that it might be easier for a catcher to transition to coaching and managing then any other position player. The catcher to me is basically a coach on the field. And the pitcher-catcher relationship might be the most integral in the game. Steinbach was a good, efficient catcher while he was in the show and has a ton of experience behind him. When the time comes, I think he would be a great guy for the job….
IN LISTENING TO MUCH debate over the season regarding what, if anything to do about NHL overtimes and shootouts, I have heard several people (mostly Canadians) state that they would be against anything that made the time it took to play a game any longer then it is currently. Most of them thought the games were at a perfect type of length right now. Not too long, not too short. I believe the current average for a game lies between 2:30 to 2:50 per game depending on if the game is won in regulation time or not. Well, I listened to the dialogue, kind of incredulous as to what I was hearing! You can’t be serious!
In my book, if you are a working class individual who goes to some dreary assed job at an office, factory or work site everyday, week after week etc, I would think that going to the rink or a major league arena would be an experience you would want to last on that given day for as long as is humanly possible. If you have to look at your watch or your schedule to see where and how much time you can commit on a certain day to watch a game or participate, you are getting it all wrong partner. Life should include MORE time at the rink not less….
FOR ANY LONGTIME TV wrestling fans I came across a great story the other night, kind of by accident. It is about the retirement of longtime match announcer Jim Ross. He wasn’t my particular favorite, and I haven’t watched for years, but I know for a fact that Ross was pretty good. Go to SB Nation and look up; “Good God Almighty, It’s Jim Ross” by Tom Golianopulous. It is a great read, wrestling fan or not… PEACE
Marc Elliott is a free lance sports opinion writer who splits time between his hometown in Illinois and Minnesota.