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They like us, they really like us?

posted Nov 2, 2019, 11:52 AM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Nov 2, 2019, 12:30 PM ]




I haven’t blogged in a while.  But I have too many thoughts in my head about Gameday not coming that I had to get them down. 

#1 LSU vs #2 Bama.  Is it a better matchup?  You bet.  But the Gameday crew has made it VERY clear that this year they want to go to schools they’ve never been to.  Like going to Brookings last weekend.  Alabama/LSU is old hat for them.  I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I bet they’ve done those locations AND that matchup more than a few times. 

Speaking of Brookings, I was there.  Thanks to Dan Svobodny who took a great photo of my sign and Gopher hole for tweeting another one out.   The point is that I’ve been to 3 Gamedays now.  While you are there, they tell you to get loud and crazy from 9:30-11 because that’s when their ratings are highest. Most watchers tune in right as they get closer to the 11 am game. 

Which is also why the 11 am game decision was the death nail for Gameday coming to Dinkytown.  The last thing they want is half their crowd leaving the show to get into the stadium, right when their ratings are peaking. 

So why was the 11 am game chosen?  Pj Fleck was on Pat McAfee’s show this week and stated very clearly that the gophers DID NOT turn down a night game.  So who did?  Was it Penn State?  And what’s wrong with 2:30? Why couldn’t that game be played at 2:30 and the LSU/BAMA game go at night?  The point I’m trying to make is that whomever decided the Gopher/Penn State game was at 11 am killed the chances of Gameday coming to Dinkytown.  If it was ABC, that’s out of our hands.  But if we had a choice between 11 and 2:30 and we chose 11, we did it to ourselves. And if we did it to ourselves, that makes it so much more deserving of being on the Calendar.

One of the other things I’ve heard is that maybe they’ll still come for the Wisconsin game.  I hope that’s true, but I just don’t see them coming when its that cold.  As a matter of fact that’s another reason I’ve heard they wont come next weekend is because of the cold.  If the cold is the reason they wont come on November 9, they sure as heck aren’t going to come on November 30.

There was a moment in Brookings when Kirk Herbstriet was on the back stage doing a segment which led into a video on the main stage.  Everyone turned to watch the video monitor on the main stage.  I didn’t.  I stayed facing Herbstreit.  I was about 15 feet from him.  I stuck my head out and waved my sign at him.  It caught his eye.  He looked directly at me, gave me a nod, a wink and a thumbs up.  I felt like he and I had a moment and that was his way of saying Gameday was coming.  There’s that old Sally Field Oscar speech where she says, “You like me, you really like me.”  But I feel like today gopher football fans feel the opposite of that.  Maybe they will still come. But I doubt it. 

There’s always next year too. 

I’m really starting to hate that phrase. 

Minnesota Sports Doomsday Supply List

posted Jul 8, 2019, 6:52 AM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Jul 8, 2019, 8:53 PM ]


When the Vikings lost to the Saints in 2010, it hit me hard.  I was in a funk for weeks.  I was sick to my stomach.  I didn’t eat much.  I didn’t want to work.  I felt like I had gotten dumped by the love of my life.  That’s how much it affected me.  I let myself ‘believe’, and the worst possible outcome occurred.   It was basically a Minnesota sports ‘doomsday’. 

As Minnesota sports fans, we’ve experienced more than our fair share of ‘doomsday’ moments like that.  We’ve been in that dark place too many times.  Because of that, some of us (the more clairvoyant ones) can sense an impending disaster.   Right now, my Spidey senses are tingling uncontrollably.  The Twins are still leading the division, but have started to slip.  What seemed like an insurmountable 11.5 games lead a month ago is now down to 5.5 games.  Even the MNUFC soccer team is doing well.  As I write this, they have moved up to 4th in the Western Conference. 

Surely both teams must be on some collision course with disaster, right?  As always, Minnesotan’s hope for the best.  But after all the pain we’ve suffered, we instinctively prepare for the worst.  It’s just our nature. 

Ever heard of Doomsday ‘Preppers’?  These are people that build bunkers and stock up food, water, etc in order to survive a potential disaster of some sort.  There’s even a television show about it.  I thought it would be fun to ‘create’ a hypothetical doomsday shelter that had everything a Minnesota fan would need to survive after another major sports disaster.  If you’re going to be in a fetal position for a few weeks and want to hide from the world while you recover, what would you need to have in that bunker to get by?  What items will remind you of the happier times and bring you out of your funk? 

 

Structure

-There will be signs with arrows leading to the shelter that say “Rally Room this way”.

-The doorway is made out of goal posts.  It’s the only way in or out.  Therefore, you MUST go through them.  It’s impossible to miss.

-The floor is made of hardwood from the original Minneapolis Laker floor with throw rugs made from the Metrodome carpet. 

-The side walls would be lined with stadium seats.  On the left side would be seats from Metropolitan Stadium.  On the right would be seats from Met Center with Yellow, White, Green and Black, randomly placed.  Notice the North Stars seats are on the right, NOT the ‘left’. 

 

Walls/Decor

-The walls would be covered with fathead logos of all Minnesota sports teams.

-Framed page from the Vikings Playbook:  Gun buffalo right key left 7 heaven

-Photo of Jack Buck that is autographed with - “We will see you tomorrow night! – Jack Buck”

-1960 Gophers Football Pennant.

-Poster from Timberwolves 1989 inaugural season

-Photo of Bruce Smith doing Heisman pose at Memorial Stadium

-Panoramic photo of first game ever at TCF Bank with ticket stubs attached.

 

Food

-2 Week supply of Dome Dogs

-Wheaties (Twins on the box)

-Whatever beer Tommy Kramer drank

-Bottles of Randy Moss’ Inta Juice Smoothies

-Emergency Snickers bars hidden in shoes stashed in random spots around the room.

 

Clothing

-No Jackets, Bud Grant wouldn’t approve.  Gotta tough it out.  

-Stephon Diggs’ Gloves from the Miracle

-Brett Favre Jersey

-A Jersey from your High School hockey team because…Minnesota. 

-Braids and horns


Entertainment

-Video of:

-87 & 91 World Series – on VHS

-2004 NBA Western Conference Finals

-2003 NHL quarter final game 7 vs Avalanche

-The Minneapolis Miracle.  Not the whole game (cuz blown lead), Just the catch. On repeat.   

-Reading

-Bob Showers and Lou Nanne’s book about North Stars History

-Sid Hartman’s - Great Minnesota Sports Moments

-1962 Rose Bowl Program

 

Comfort/Companionship

-Homer Hankies

-Plush "Ozzie the parrot" (Think ‘Wilson’ from Castaway.  It gets lonely down there.)

 

Security

-Herb Brooks’ whistle

-The locks on the door are similar to those Lou Nanne would use when he locked the refs in their dressing room.   

-T-shirt cannon to ward off invaders trying to lure you out before you’re ready. 

 

Other Necessities

-Air Quality - Generator powered Furnace and AC unit from ‘Carrier’.  Why Carrier?  Kent Hrbek says so. 

-Restrooms - Urinal troughs.

-Exercise - Lynx logo basketball and hoop.  All the Lynx do is win.  They’re our motivation to get off the floor and get moving again.

 

Re-Emergence

When you think you’re ready to face life’s daily grind again, there will be talcum powder by the door.  Pour some in your hands, clap them together and walk through the cloud that forms.  On your way out you will climb steps that resemble those that led up to the entrances at Met Center. 


Other Ideas?

I think we're gonna be short on food and entertainment so I may need some help.  There are a lot of creative WHENESOTAN's out there, so feel free to contribute suggestions for those or anything else.  If you come up with a good idea, I will add it and credit you.  It can be general like the goal posts and seats, or something more personal.  Remember this is something you will be clinging to in your darkest hour, your ‘blankey’ if you will.  It has to be something that reminds you of the good times.  For example, I considered having Whiskey and oranges in the food category, but that would remind us of the Drew Pearson push off.  That just defeats the purpose.   Let’s build this together.  The ‘Peoples Bunker’.  Please retweet!!!

 

This space is reserved for ideas submitted by readers/followers. 

-Scott Studwell sweatshirt (Mom)

-1985 All Star game hat (Mom)

-Photo of herself kissing the Stanley Cup at 2004 NHL All Star Game (Mrs Whenesota)

-Ticket stubs from first Vikings game (Andar)

-Puckett and Hrbek Starting Lineup Figures-unopened (Coworker MC)

-Garnett/Marbury signed Basketball (@fightingmormons)

-Letter from Gophers backup QB Scott Eckers (@hstrytchr1984)

-Gopher team poster autographed by Lou Holtz. (Coworker PP)

I Cheated on Minnesota with Lenny Dykstra

posted Jul 2, 2019, 8:10 AM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Jul 2, 2019, 4:44 PM ]


As you read this, please remember, I was born and raised Minnesotan.  I am 'one of us'.

I was born in '73 and am a child of the 80's.  Like many kids my age I collected baseball cards.  My dad and I belonged to a group called the TCSCC (Twin Cities Sports Collectors Club).  They would sponsor baseball card shows around the metro area and usually have some local sports personality there to sign autographs.  I remember meeting many Minnesota athletes, Puckett, Killebrew, Hrbek, etc.  Every once in a while, there were some non-Minnesota athletes there, like Hank Aaron, and Eddie Matthews.  I enjoyed learning about and collecting cards from other teams as well. 

At some point in my collecting, I got a hold of some Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry cards.  That’s the first I can remember being interested in the Mets.  Yep…I said it.  In addition to being a Twins fan, I was a Mets fan. 

Before you revoke my “One of us’ card, hear me out. 

The Twins were not very good in the early 80’s.  As a matter of fact, one of the worst seasons they ever had was in 1982 when they went 60-102.  Therefore, appreciating another team from afar, wasn’t a stretch.  Remember too, that back then the AL and NL only played each other in the World series.  Inter-league games didn’t exist yet.  The odds that the Twins would play the Mets in a world series, wasn’t very likely.  The odds that the Twins would play anyone in a world series back then didn’t seem within the realm of possibility.  So, to me, the Mets were my ‘National League’ team.

And not only was I a Mets fan, I became a huge fan of a brash young outfielder named Lenny Dykstra.  I think I just loved how he played: Diving all over the place, reckless abandon.  He was my Pete Rose.  

So, in addition to my Twins memorabilia I have stored away, there is another set of stuff.  Lenny Dykstra stuff, and there's a lot of it.  I was a bit obsessed with him.

Fast forward to last night.  A tweet came across my timeline that said,  “What number did you wear in sports, and why?”

https://twitter.com/DonreyMarinas/status/1145893339683680257


I replied “ #4, Lenny Dykstra.”  Pretty much every jersey for every team I ever played for had that number on it.  My softball team jacket that I wear everyday has a #4 on it.  Any gear I received while coaching had #4 on it. 

Shortly after hitting send, I started to worry about posting it.   I was concerned that someone might be offended that it wasn’t #29 for Carew, or #3 for Killebrew (2 of my other favorite players BTW) 

Why should I feel ashamed and try to hide that I was a fan of more than one team as a kid?  On one hand it's very Minnesotan to feel guilty about something like that.  I worried that at first glance someone may view it as not very ‘on brand’ for WHENESOTA.  They may also view it as not being a true Minnesotan.

But is it? 

How many of you know someone who is a Minnesota sports fan, but they're also a closet fan of some other team?  Yes, there are many people out there who love ONLY Minnesota sports.  Bless their hearts.  But I bet most people reading this either know someone like me, or are like me themselves. 

And let me be clear.  I’m not talking about your Packer fan neighbor.  They're a squatter.  They just live here.  They ARE NOT ‘one of us’ and don’t care one bit about Minnesota sports.  Also, if you are a Minnesotan and root for Wisconsin, there’s something wrong with you.  Seek help immediately. 


Now that we’ve established that we all know somebody like this, lets talk about the reasons why. 

1.  The Wandering Eye

When your teams disappoint you as much as Minnesota teams have, it’s hard not to notice other teams that do well.  Seeking satisfaction elsewhere can be exciting, but remember, its only temporary and you're only avoiding the real issue.  You'll need to deal with it at some point.   I think that's what happened to me in the early 80s with the Mets. And luckily for me, the Twins won in 87 and 91. 

 

2.  Heart Transplant

You weren’t born here, but you're 'one of us' now.  You grew up liking another team from back home, but now because of job, family or life you live here.  And let’s be honest, once you’re here, it’s hard NOT to become Minnesotan.  Enjoying our culture and sports is infectious, because being Minnesotan is just …better.   Because of this, your heart now belongs to Minnesota and you root for our teams in addition to the team you grew up with.  

 

3.  It's all Relative

Maybe your parent was born elsewhere and therefore grew up a fan of another team.  Because they root for that team, so do you.  This is the case for one of my coworkers.  He was born and raised in Faribault, MN, but his Dad was from Nebraska.  In addition to being a Minnesota sports fan, he’s a huge Cornhusker fan.    

 

4.  Trade Bait

Did you stop being a Rod Carew fan when he was traded?  Did you root against him because he was with another team?  First, that’s not very Minnesota Nice.  Second, remember that he was traded because the Twins owner was cheap and racist.  I’m pretty sure Carew would have rather stayed here.  Have you noticed him hanging out in the Twins dugout lately?  Clearly, he loves Minnesota.   Another example:  I have a coworker who is a huge fan of Drew Butera.  She still follows him even though he plays elsewhere.  Heck, In addition to my Rod Carew Jersey, I have a Danny Valencia Jersey.  There, I said it. 

 

5.  NBA Deficiency

I teach Biology.  Each year I show my students the ESPN 30 for 30 “The Announcement” which chronicles Magic Johnson’s decision to announce he had HIV.  I show it during our virus and bacteria unit.  It gives them a historical perspective and does it in a way that they can connect with.  One of the unintended side effects of showing them that film?  They marvel at just how good Magic was on the court.  There are ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ every time I show it.  I feel like I was really lucky to grow up and watch the NBA during that time and kids today don’t understand just how good it was back then. 

Point being?  The NBA was in its hey-day, and we grew up not having anybody to cheer for.  The Lakers left in 1960.  The wolves didn’t start playing until 1989.  If you were a kid that time period, you had no choice but to be a fan of another team.  I still remember the guys on my high school basketball team all were fans of other teams.  Matt was a Laker fan.  Craig loved the Pistons.  Mike liked the Bulls.  Brian liked the Celtics.  It was almost as if everyone had to choose their own team. 

 

6.  College Outreach

I know this is hard to understand, but not every Minnesota kid attends the University of Minnesota.  In addition to attending one year at the University of Minnesota, I also attended NDSU-Fargo. 

Again…Hear me out on this.  Because I grew up in the cities, going to the U of M seemed too close.  I wanted to get away.  NDSU was just far enough to not want to drive home every weekend. 

My football fandom before that point revolved around my high school, the Gophers and the Vikings…in the 80’s!  Those 3 teams experienced very little success during that time (putting it nicely).  Attending a school that had a football dynasty is infectious.  It was impossible not to jump on board. 

For the record I did attend the U of M for one year later on AND was a Gopher football season ticket holder for almost 10 years until my son was born.  #MNCRED 

Speaking of North Dakota, they don't have ANY professional sports teams.  They are all over the map when it comes to fandom.  Some like Minnesota teams.  Some are Packer fans which makes no sense.  I have a friend from Bismarck who is a Cowboys and Braves fan.  Weird.

 

7.  Norm Green Sucks

At this point the North Stars have been gone almost as long as they were here.  There is a whole generation of fans like my son, who have known nothing but the Wild.  The North Stars leaving was really hard on some of us.  There was a 3-year period between the team leaving and the announcement that a franchise would be returning.  Not knowing hockey would eventually return, its completely understandable that some North Stars fans became invested in other teams during that time (Unless it’s the Blackhawks #SecordSucks). I know some people that are still Dallas Stars fans.  :-/   #NormStillSucks #DallasCanSuckIt   

 

8.  Other

There’s always some weird ones.  We all know someone who is a Notre Dame fan.  I’ll never understand that one.  I have a co-worker who loves Duke.  Why?  She just does.  No connection to them at all.   I’m sure there are other reasons out there

Maybe you’ve cheated on Minnesota in other avenues? 

-Maybe you have a cabin in Wisconsin?

-Maybe you’re an Indoorsman. 

-Maybe there are other musicians you would rather listen to than Prince?

-Maybe you hate the crowds at the state fair?

These are just a few examples.  Have you ever cheated on Minnesota?  If so with who?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  This is a safe space and I will forgive you.

My week with an NFL Hall of Famer

posted Jun 17, 2019, 1:02 PM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Jun 27, 2019, 2:21 PM ]

(More photos at the bottom)

When I was a teenager, I was a really good bowler.  Many weekends were spent at bowling alleys around the state competing in tournaments for scholarships.  One of the tournaments that I competed in was sponsored by the NFL, the NFL Alumni as well as Brunswick.  I won at the state level and advanced to the regionals which were held in Ames, Iowa.  The top 4 finishers at that tournament advanced to the finals and would bowl as a team in Honolulu, Hawaii.  I finished 3rd. 

There were 12 regionals held around the country.  Each regional team was paired with an NFL alumni bowler to compete for scholarships.  My region was paired with Willie Lanier.  For those of you who don’t remember that name, he was a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs.  The same Kansas City Chiefs that beat the Vikings in Superbowl IV, 23-7.  He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1986. The other NFL players that attended were:

Babe Parilli, Dick Szymanski, Tommy Nobis, Otto Graham, Lem Barney, Elroy ‘Crazy Legs’ Hirsch, Bobby Bell, Ollie Matson, Tom Fears, and Bobby Mitchell.  Kenny Stabler was originally scheduled to attend but something happened at the last minute that he couldn’t, and I don’t remember who ended up replacing him.

I remember thinking when I met Lanier that he was the biggest man I had ever seen.  But I also remember him being very friendly, kind, funny, and ALWAYS smiling.  He seemed to tolerate us kids more than some of the other NFLers. 

We all were housed at the Sheraton Waikiki hotel.  The word 'housed' probably isn't accurate.  The hotel was right on the beach.  My room had a view of the ocean and Diamond Head.  Not only did the bowlers and their families stay there, the NFL players and their families stayed there as well.  We spent a lot of time together.  It wasn’t a one-day event.  This was a week-long affair.  They had a schedule for us every day, we ate meals together, did site seeing etc. 

Because it was sponsored by the NFL, we were there during the Pro-Bowl.  We got to attend a practice session as well as the Pro Bowl game itself at Aloha Stadium.  We were competing at the Bowling alley on Hickam Air Force Base.   Because of that we did a group excursion to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial.  They had a luau for us every night with food and music.  Apparently at one of the luaus my dad was watching some attractive female Hula dancers with Elroy ‘Crazy Legs’ Hirsch.  Hirsch said to my dad, “Isn’t it amazing how their feet barely move when they’re dancing?”  My dad replied, “You're looking at their feet?”   My dad.  What a guy.

After round one of bowling our team was in first place.  Lanier was a pretty good bowler even if his score didn’t count towards us winning.  Its too bad it didn't.  He may have been the best bowler out of all the NFLers.  In the end we finished third.  How Minnesotan is that, not being able to hold a lead?  Like most Minnesota teams, I've never been 'clutch'. 😊  Finishing third wasn’t too bad.  I got a $300 scholarship for it.  I also got an incredible experience with memories to last a lifetime and a great story to tell.   Apparently the tournament cost so much that they couldn't justify having the event the following year.  Therefore, my experience truly was once in a lifetime. 

Most of my free time in Hawaii was spent running around with the other kids and goofing off.  I was 14.  I didn't have the appreciation for sports history that I do now.   I regret not getting to know Lanier better or even asking him more about that Superbowl and beating the Vikings.  Although part of me thinks maybe he appreciated being treated like a regular person and not having to talk football all the time.  Maybe he’d let me interview him for the film?  It would be great to see him again and look at pictures of the event together. I also regret not speaking more to Bobby Bell.  He was also a Hall of Fame linebacker on that Chiefs team in addition to being a member of the 1960 Gophers National Championship team. 

Andy Worhol once said “In the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes.”  I don’t know that I’ll ever be famous. Sometimes when I'm in the grocery store, a student sees me and says hello.  That's probably about as close as I'll get.  But I’ve been extremely fortunate.   As an average kid who loved sports, I’ve had some really unique experiences with professional athletes that most people don’t.  I’ve written about a few of those experiences already (Mahorn, Nanne, Steinbauer) and I have a few more yet to tell.  But this one might be the most unique.  How many people can say they spent a week in paradise bowling with an NFL Hall of Famer?  I’m very appreciative for having more than 15 minutes.  I’m also appreciative that these athletes have given me some of their time and been a part of my life.  That week with Willie Lanier was just like him. Legendary. 

If you missed it:

Rick Mahorn blog  click here

Lou Nanne blog click here

Ed Steinbauer blog click here


Scroll down for pictures


Football card Lanier autographed for me (It's really faint. You can see it if you click on it)




Willie Lanier and Bobby Bell at the Luau




Willie, the Mrs and Bobby at dinner




Our team




Bobby Bell photo bomb. 




Entire Group: Bowlers and NFLers at the Air Force Base




I'm pretty sure this is Scott Studwell.  My mom had a crush on him. 




Sweetness himself, Walter Payton signing autographs at practice




Dad with some Rams Cheerleaders.  Doesn't he look happy?




Dad and Otto Graham.  Not 'as' happy, but still happy. 




Aloha Stadium




Ticket Stub









                   
 








 






   

































      
              













  




















































































































































































Minnesota Does Not Feel Bad For You

posted Jun 13, 2019, 9:43 AM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Jun 13, 2019, 11:11 AM ]

(As you are reading this blog you might want to have some mood music playing in the background. Click here)


Reminder: All caps means yelling. 

Last night I watched the St. Louis Blues win the Stanley Cup.  I was rooting for them because I’m tired of Boston winning.  As a Minnesota sports fan, it’s easy to root against a team that wins all the time. 

But no sooner had the celebration begun did I start seeing posts on twitter about St. Louis being vindicated for NEVER winning a Stanley cup.  Although that may be a true statement, it’s meant to claim some sort of ‘woe is me’ for St. Louis sports fans.  The problem is that it completely neglects the fact that their baseball team won 2 World Series in the past 15 years, and their football team won a Superbowl in 2000.

I hate to break the news to you St. Louis, but Minnesota doesn’t feel bad for you.  Our last Major* sports championship was in 1991.  Almost 28 years ago.  That’s the longest streak running.  It used to be Cleveland, until they won the NBA title in 2016 putting Minnesota atop that list.

This pity party crap seems to be a trend this summer. 

It started with the NBA draft.  We were bombarded with media trying to make us feel bad for the Knicks if they didn’t get the first overall pick.  Because they had the worst record in the NBA and their owner is a jerk, we were all supposed to root for them to win the lottery.  The Knicks have had the #1 overall pick 4 times in their history.  Ever heard of Patrick Ewing?  In the Wolves 29-year history, we have had the worst record in the NBA 3 times and many other years where we were close.  We’ve had the #1 overall pick ONCE in our history and it didn’t come until the franchises 26th year. 26 YEARS!!!  If you want an expansion franchise to survive and have some success that’s absolutely ridiculous. 

Point being…Shut up New York.     

Then a few weeks ago the Milwaukee bucks lost the Eastern Conference finals to the Raptors.  Milwaukee’s pity party started almost immediately claiming they hadn’t won a championship since 1971. 

Um….Excuse me? 

All the sudden Milwaukee isn’t full of Packer fans?  How do you say that with a straight face?  Not to mention the Packers used to play a few games a year in Milwaukee.  I’m well aware the team is based in ‘Green Bay’.  But claiming the Packers don’t belong to Milwaukee is like saying St. Paul hasn’t ever won a championship because the Lakers and Twins won theirs in Minneapolis.  It’s a ridiculous argument. 

Shut up Milwaukee.

Then the whole St Louis thing last night.  I was rooting for you, now I’m already sick of you.  Your hockey team has never won a championship?  NEITHER HAS OURS!  Guess what? Neither has our Football team!  Our NBA team hasn’t had one since the 50’s.  Do you know who has?  ST LOUIS!!!  You had 3 NBA championships in the 60s.  SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why does everyone want to claim being a loser?  Do they even understand what that entails?  The heartbreak. The disappointment.  The ‘here we go again’ feeling in the pit of your stomach when your team blows the lead?  The nausea you feel when your kicker lines up for a field goal?  Your muscles tensing every time the Manager goes to the bullpen?  Not even being able to enjoy small successes because the fatalist inside knows that doom is around the corner? 

What a bunch of spoiled insufferable sports fans.  Congratulations on winning the Stanley Cup.  But Just. Shut. Up.       

 

 

*=The Major Sports Leagues are defined as the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL and possibly the MLS now.  That definition is based on popularity, TV ratings and revenues.  The Lynx have won 4 championships.  I am a Lynx fan and watch the team regularly.  I am also a huge fan of the US women’s soccer team.  Minnesota also has a women’s pro hockey team, the Whitecaps, who won their championship last year.  We also have a women’s pro football team, the Vixen, who are pretty damn good too.  They made it to the championship in their league last year. I have defended women’s sports publicly on social media to people who take shots at them. I have coached women’s/girls sports for 20 years, even though I don’t have a daughter.  I have created opportunities for girls at my school when the boys got to do something that wasn’t offered to the girls.

 

Having said that, comparing a WNBA title to a Superbowl is not the same thing.  It just isn’t.  In terms of popularity, ratings and revenue, its apples and oranges.  Maybe someday it will be, but right now it’s not. I’m not saying it’s right. I’m just saying that it’s reality.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minnesota Sports Report Card - 18-19 School Year

posted May 27, 2019, 6:12 PM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated May 28, 2019, 11:14 AM ]


Sometime in the next few weeks, children all around the state will have their last day of school.  Teachers however, have one more day.  On that day we clean, pack up our rooms and say goodbye to colleagues for the summer.  There’s also one other important thing we do.  That day, we enter final grades for students based on their work, achievement and how much they’ve learned.

I thought it would be fun to look at our sports teams the same way.  How have they done this year?  How does that compare to last year or to the other ‘students’?  Are they showing growth, or are they performing below their potential?

I needed a starting point.  At my school we have a building wide grading scale (90 = A, 80 = B…etc) So I came up with the grading scale below.  It’s not concrete and there may be some exceptions. We must remember that each child is different and has their own unique challenges.  Therefore, we may have to make some adjustments.  But it’s a starting point. 

A+ = Championship
A = Made Playoffs but lost conference championship
A- = Playoffs/Won second round
B+ = Playoffs/Won first round
B = Made playoffs
B- = Made Playoffs lost first round
C+ = Didn’t make playoffs but finished strong and almost did.  
C = Didn’t make playoffs
C- = Didn’t make playoffs and fell apart at the end.  
D = Were never really in the playoff hunt.
F = The team was a complete disaster. 

There are also comments we use to describe why each student received the grade they did.  Here are some examples:  Contributes to class;  Could do better work;  Uses class time wisely;  Disruptive.

Lastly, to protect their privacy, we don’t use student’s full names when we refer to them in writing.   

With those being our parameters, lets dive in.  Remember, the sooner we’re done, the sooner we can go home for the summer!


Vikings

The previous school year the Vikings lost in the NFC championship to the Eagles, earning themselves an A.  But I might have downgraded them to an A- for the disastrous way they lost.  Regardless, the point is that expectations were very high for this school year because of improvement shown the previous year. 

However, the entire year the Vikings were very inconsistent.  They spent most of their budget on a QB, Kirk C, but didn’t have enough money to buy other supplies like offensive line.  They started the school year 1-2-1 and had to expel some students because of disruptions: Daniel C, because of poor use of equipment, and John D because his play calling was extremely offensive, or not, depending how you look at it.  In the end the Vikings turned in just enough work to be in the playoff hunt.  All they had to do was ace the final test in Chicago, but apparently, they didn’t study hard enough. 

Final Grade = C-
Comment = Not Working to Potential

Disciplinary side note to media: If I ever hear the term ‘Ballcap Game” again, I WILL be calling home and speaking to parents. 


Timberwolves

Just like the Vikings, the Wolves were coming off a school year where expectations were very high after being in the playoffs for the first time in 14 years.  Then last summer, Jimmy B requested a transfer to a different school.  He had some unexcused absences, and when he finally did show up, he used some very inappropriate language, and was disrespectful to staff.  While waiting for his transfer he was often in the nurse’s office with ‘General Soreness’.  His request to transfer was eventually granted.  

At about the same time, some new students transferred in from Philadelphia, but one of them, Robert C, was often home with illness and missed too many days of school.

Tom T had to be expelled because of Verbal Abuse, Intimidation, and Bullying. 

Last year, Glen T spent a good chunk of the budget on Andrew W.  But this year, Andrew did not work to his potential and seemed distracted. Until Andrew starts to perform at a higher level, the amount of the budget spent on him could hold the entire class back for 4 years.  

One positive for the team is that Karl T continues to grow and his potential seems limitless. 

Final Grade = D-
Comment = Unacceptable Conduct, Working Below Ability, Appears Indifferent

 

Wild

After receiving a B- the previous 3 years for losing in the first round of the playoffs, the Wild started the 2018 school year strong, with high marks at mid-terms in Fall Semester.  However, that early year achievement seemed to lose steam around Thanksgiving break. A few weeks after winter break their average test scores fell to 50%. 

Because of the class’s lack of effort, Nino N was sent to another school in Nashville, to send a message to the remaining students about their effort.  A short time later, the same thing happened to Charlie C, but he was sent to Boston.  Both of those students are doing much better in their new settings. On a weird side note, they both got into a fight recently and had to serve detentions. 

The Wild had many opportunities to make the grade this year.  But when it came down to each important test, they seemed more concerned with their extra-curricular activities than their academics.  

Final Grade = C-, but downgraded to D+ for effort 
Comment = Unacceptable Effort., Lacks Focus

 

Lynx

Every once in a while, a student misses getting a grade by a point or two.  Depending on the teacher, they may bump the student up a grade if they have no missing assignments, did well on tests, participated in class, etc.  Last year the Lynx lost in the first round of the playoffs, which by our rubric gives them a B-.  Having said that, they’ve won 4 of the previous 7 WNBA championships.  Those are the only A+’s in school history since 1991.  I have no problem bumping the Lynx up a grade. 

The Lynx are the Gifted and Talented of our school.  They deserve every ounce of credit they get, and probably should get more. 

Final Grade = A- 
Comment = Outstanding Effort.

 

Twins and MNUFC

These teams are currently in the middle of their seasons.  Therefore, we will have to assess them a bit differently.  In education, we would say ‘make modifications’ to the assessment.  We’ll try to come up with a cumulative grade for the last 365 days.  To do that we will average their final grade from last year and what their current grade would be if their season ended today.  We’ll call it an ‘In-Progress’ grade.  Both of these teams will be attending Summer school and their final grades will be recorded then. 

 

Twins

The Twins have had 8 years of D and F grades.  They made the wildcard game in 2017, but MLB does not consider that playoffs.  They call it the ‘post-season’.  That’s their definition, not mine.  Maybe I’d give the twins a C+ that year.  But last year, the Twins regressed.  With expectations being high from 2017, they failed to make the playoffs in 2018.  They expelled Paul M. after winning some academic awards.  Paul’s parents are still trying to contact administrators for an explanation. 

I am a bit superstitious so I am going to word this carefully.  At the moment this is being written, the Twins are the best class in the country.  They open enrolled some new students for the year.  Their test scores are off the charts and better then everyone else’s by far. In fact, they are doing so well, I’m worried it may draw unwanted attention from test administrators about academic impropriety. 

Having said that, if they continue to do this well, they WILL make the playoffs.  And if they do, they will most likely have to finally stand up to the school yard bully…The Yankees.  I’m already getting nervous talking about it and, I don’t want to jinx anything so lets just give the Twins a ‘B’ based on where they sit today.  Let me be clear, this is NOT a final grade and could change depending on how consistently they perform on tests. 

In-Progress Grade =  C  (Average of 2018 D and 2019 currently a B) 
Comment = Shows Improvement

 

MNUFC

It’s amazing how often it happens, but sometimes a new student arrives, and on their first day you are giving a test.  You can’t hold them accountable for that test if they weren’t enrolled for the entire unit.  The Loons are in their third year of school.  They are still getting adjusted to the routines and schedule.  Because of that I would give them a modified C- for the first two years.  Having said that, their classroom got remodeled this year.  They have all the newest supplies and technology.  Their test scores have improved some this year and if the playoffs started today, they would be in.

In-Progress Grade = C+ (Average of 2018 C- and 2019 currently a B) 
Comment = Growth Observed

Disciplinary Side note: This class is unusually loud and disruptive.  We are continually working with them on using their indoor voices.  Not to mention they keep singing some song about a wall.  


Whitecaps and Vixen

We’re also going to include the following classes in our report card not only because they deserve to be, but because they illustrate a very important point. 

Whitecaps = A+ Won 2019 championship.

Vixen = A- Lost 2018 championship. 

The State collects standardized test scores and reports that data back to the school.  The data is often grouped so we can see if certain populations or demographics are performing better than others and we can then use that information to help address needs.  Having said that, if the state was monitoring this report card, there would be a huge red flag.  The female students are clearly outperforming the male students.  As teachers, we are charged with figuring out why and trying to increase scores for that demographic. 

Challenge accepted.  I will be sure to continue posting my thoughts on what can be done to improve achievement with those under performing classes as well as applaud the successes of those that are excelling. 

;-)   

Remodeling the Mt. Rushmore of Minnesota Sports Disappointment

posted May 21, 2019, 1:30 PM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated May 22, 2019, 11:16 AM ]


A few months back I wrote a blog called the Mt. Rushmore of Minnesota Sports Financial Disappointment.   One player from each of our 4 major sports teams who got the big payday, but didn’t play as well as we expected (in terms of playoffs and championships).  You can read the original blog here 

Even as I was writing it, I struggled with a few decisions.  For example, Parise vs Suter.  Their contracts are exactly the same.  Ultimately, I chose Parise, only because he was born in Minnesota.  In my mind, being ‘one of us’ gave him the edge in the disappointment department.  In response, I received some fair criticism from readers that thought it should have been Suter. 

I also had some difficulty deciding between Garnett and Wiggins.  I admitted in the blog that Wiggins could just as easily have been chosen. Garnett led the Wolves to their only conference final.   Having said that, the metric was money vs championships (not moral victories) and Garnett made more money than Wiggins and the decision came down to that.

In addition to rethinking those nominations, I also had some internal conflict over it.  As you may know, I’m a teacher.  If someone offered me 90 million dollars to teach for 3 years, would I sign that contract?  You’re damn right I would!  Where do I sign and how soon can I cash the check? How can we be mad at Wiggins, Cousins, Parise or Mauer for signing their deals?  As fans, its ok to be bothered by a player's on field performance or lack thereof.  But their contracts?  That’s not their fault.  That blame needs to be put on the person who gave it to them. 

Therefore, I decided to demolish my first attempt at a monument and construct a new one.  This time it’s meant for those who were responsible for the biggest disappointments in Minnesota sports history. 

 

Wild/North Stars

I originally had this whole thing written up blaming Wild owner Craig Leipold for the Suter/Parise 13 year, 98 Million dollar deals.  According to Michael Russo of the Athletic, Leipold was the one who went after Suter, who in turn got Parise on board.  Contracts that long aren’t even legal anymore.  If Suter/Parise play out their entire contracts with the Wild, they will have played in the NHL for 20 years.  That’s almost as long as the North Stars were in Minnesota.

Are the Suter/Parise contracts really the biggest disappointment in Minnesota hockey history? 

Not even close.  Hands down, it’s the North Stars leaving for Dallas.  Before you get out the pitch forks and start calling for Norm Green’s head, read my blog about the North Stars moving to Dallas here.  Dallas can suck it.  

Bill Lester was the head of the Metropolitan Sports Commission for 25 years.  Private sources tell me that he had all the power in making the decisions that affected the North Stars.  They may have thought they were doing the right thing by trying to force the North Stars downtown, but the reality is they were forcing them to go bankrupt, or move.  In addition, it cost Minnesota more to try and get an NHL franchise back to the cities, than it would have to keep the North Stars here.  You can keep hating Norm all you want, but in my mind, the Metropolitan Sports Commission is to blame for the North Stars leaving.  Because Bill Lester was in charge of that committee during that time period, he is our NHL nominee for the monument. 


Wolves

In 2017 Andrew Wiggins signed a 5 year 147 million dollar contract extension.   I understand that Minnesota isn’t the most ideal destination compared to other teams in the NBA and sometimes you have to take a chance.  The problem is that right now, it looks like a HUGE mistake.  Wiggins is clearly not playing to the level that contract demands.  In addition, it's fully guaranteed and there are 4 years left.  Unless Wiggins starts playing at a higher level, that’s 4 years of Karl Anthony Towns seemingly in his prime that might be wasted.  In addition they don't have a ton of cap room to do much else.  Look at it this way, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green both make a lot less than Wiggins.  Think about that for a minute. 

So who is responsible for that contract?  It would be easy to point the finger at Thibs. He was President at the time.  Scott Layden?  He was GM.  Unfortunately, this one is on the owner.  According to John Krawczynski when he was writing for the AP, Glen Taylor told Wiggins BEFORE they started contract talks that he was willing to pay a huge amount to keep him.  That doesn’t sound like much of a negotiation.  I believe not giving Kevin Love the max deal in 2012 may have played a part in this and Taylor wasn’t going to let that happen again. 

In addition to the Wiggins contract, Taylor was suspended for one year by the NBA in 2000 for the illegal Joe Smith deal and the team lost 3 years of first round draft picks.  He also hired David Kahn.  Because of all this, Glen Taylor earns the next spot on our remodeled monument.  I think Glen is a good owner.  I believe he has good intentions and truly wants to build a winner.  I also love the fact that he is willing to spend money to do so.   Having said that, I think he needs to leave the basketball decisions to someone else. 


Twins

The team’s owner doesn’t want to pay big money free agents. He lets his best and most popular players leave because he’s reluctant to pay competitive salaries.  His team’s total payroll is consistently in the bottom half compared to other major league teams.  To keep money in the family he has his relatives working in the front office. 

Raise your hand if you thought I was talking about Carl Pohlad.  Pohlad has been criticized for not spending money (in my opinion deservedly so).  Jack Morris once told a story on KFAN radio about leaving the Twins.  He said that Carl told him he couldn’t afford to pay two superstars, and he wasn’t getting rid of Kirby, so Jack should start looking elsewhere.  Sure, they signed Mauer to a big deal.  But because they spent so much on Joe, they refused to spend much more on anyone else.  So yes, Pohlad could be a candidate here.  However, that’s not who I was referring to. 

The Twins had a reputation of being cheap long before Pohlad bought the team.  That philosophy was pioneered by his predecessor, Calvin Griffith.  Jim ‘Mudcat’ Grant once said, “Griffith was so cheap, he threw nickels around like they were manhole covers.” (NY Times).  Griffith hated free agency.  After his teams did well in the late 60’s and early 70s he refused to pay competitive salaries to keep those players.  He either let them sign elsewhere, or traded them.  Rod Carew was my favorite Twin as a child.  He traded Carew because he was going to attract more money in free agency in the offseason AND because Carew was outspoken about racist remarks Griffith had made.  

Who is cheaper, Pohlad or Griffith?  This may be the only time I will ever defend Carl Pohlad.  


Vikings

There isn’t any one event in Minnesota sports history that was more detrimental to a team than the Herschel Walker Trade.  You can read my summary of the deal here.

There are events in history that are traumatic or elicit so much emotion that we remember exactly where we were when they occurred.  For my parent’s generation it was the Kennedy assassination.  For me, the big ones were Magic Johnson’s announcement, September 11th, and Columbine. 

This may seem weird, but in addition to those, Herschel Walker running out of his shoe is also on my list.  I was at the bowling alley in Rosemount.   I remember thinking, this is it.  We’re going to the Superbowl.  A lot of Minnesotans felt that way.  With a few exceptions, the Dallas media was overwhelmingly against the deal.  Jimmy Johnson defiantly declared he had just committed ‘The Great Train Robbery’.   Of all those opinions, only one would prove to be correct.  Herschel only lasted a few years with the Vikings and not having those draft picks for 3 years really hurt.  What Jimmy Johnson did with those draft picks (3 Superbowls) hurts even more.  

On one hand, it’s hard to criticize a GM for rolling the dice and trying to add a piece that they think will take the team to the next level.   On the other hand, not being aware of the conditional picks we would eventually give up, is just foolish.  The Vikings GM who got fleeced (fleeced is putting it nicely) in this deal was Mike Lynn.  Because it is most likely the biggest blunder in Minnesota sports history, Mike Lynn will be representing the Vikings on our monument.  Oh...and Dallas can suck it.


There you have it.  The Mt Rushmore of Minnesota Sports Disappointment.  The good news?  Admission is free to view this monument.  The memories however, do come at a cost.  As always, feel free to agree, disagree, respond and debate.

 

Sources

-Andrew Wiggins signs contract extension with Minnesota Timberwolves- John Krawczynski – The Associated Press Oct 11, 2017 https://www.nba.com/article/2017/10/11/minnesota-timberwolves-andrew-wiggins-agree-extension

-Bumper to Bumper on KFAN - Dan Barreiro interviews Jack Morris - June 19, 2018 

-Crease and Assist - A Legally Compliant Hockey Blog

-Halfway into Parise - Suter deals, here’s the full story of how it all went down - Michael Russo - The Athletic - Jan 7, 2019  https://theathletic.com/753348/2019/01/07/zach-parise-ryan-suter-deals-wild-halfway-point-craig-leipold-chuck-fletcher-full-story/ 

-Calvin Griffith, 87, Is Dead; Tight-Fisted Baseball Owner - RICHARD GOLDSTEIN – New York Times - OCT. 21, 1999 https://www.nytimes.com/1999/10/21/sports/calvin-griffith-87-is-dead-tight-fisted-baseball-owner.html

Minnesota Legislative Reference Library – Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission

https://www.leg.state.mn.us/lrl/agencies/detail?AgencyID=1063

-Lester Resigns After 25 years of Leading Metrodome Commission - Ed Stych - Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal - Jul 19, 2012 https://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/blog/sports-business/2012/07/bill-lester-leaves-metrodome-commission.html

-Longtime Metrodome Chief Leaves - Richard Meryhew and Paul Walsh – July 19, 2012  http://www.startribune.com/longtime-metrodome-chief-leaves/163042006/

-Wikipedia 

-Spotrac

Is Norm Green Really to Blame for the North Stars Leaving?

posted May 9, 2019, 10:53 AM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Jul 17, 2019, 2:49 PM ]

This should go over well. 

What if I told you that the North Stars moving may not have been Norm Green’s fault?    (That will be the teaser for my ESPN 30 for 30 trailer) 

Just mentioning his name to any Minnesota sports fan will most likely elicit an enthusiastic “NORM SUCKS!”.  He will forever be remembered (and hated) for moving the North Stars.  That fact is well known.   However, from what I’ve learned doing research for this project and even speaking to Lou Nanne himself, it may not be Norm’s fault. 

First, don’t kill the messenger.  I love the North Stars as much as anyone.  I spent a lot of time at Met Center as a kid.  When I started down this rabbit hole, I hated Norm Green as much as you, and still do.  In researching North Stars history, I expected to find evidence to blame Norm.  But when the facts you find while researching do not support your narrative, you have to change the narrative.

Norm owned the North Stars, but not Met Center.  That was owned by the Metropolitan Sports Commission.  At the time this all started, the Met Center was 20 years old and needed some upgrades for the North Stars to be able to make enough money and keep the team afloat.  The Gund brothers (who owned the team from 1978 – 1990) tried many times to get the Metropolitan Sports Commission to add improvements to the Met Center and were told ‘no’ at every turn.  At one point the Gund brothers even paid for some of the improvements themselves.  When Norm bought the team, nothing changed.  He was hoping to make improvements but was also told ‘no’ many times.  The reason?  The Metropolitan Sports Commission was trying to force the North Stars to move downtown Minneapolis.  But the Gunds had already tried that.  They sent Lou Nanne to negotiate with the Timberwolves' owners to play at Target Center, but they couldn’t come to an agreement over advertising.  Without advertising revenue, moving downtown wouldn’t have improved the situation any more than staying at Met Center.  Without the improvements at Met Center, the North Stars would not have been able to stay afloat financially.  Rather than letting the franchise go under, Norm moved the team.

Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely not trying to make Norm Green out to be a hero.  He’s not.  He sucks.  I have 2 (yes 2) T-shirts that say so.  It sounds like he wasn’t the nicest person.  He was difficult to work with and very stubborn.  There were even rumors of inappropriate behavior towards some of his female employees.  Just like Art Modell will always be hated in Cleveland, (whether he was justified moving the Browns or not) Norm Green will always be hated here.  But the truth is, he had no choice. 

If Norm isn’t to blame, then who? 

The more I looked into it, every road led to the Metropolitan Sports Commission (aka Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, aka the Metrodome Commission).  The commission is definitely an enigma.  Trying to find specific information on them isn’t easy.  They were formed by the state legislature in 1977 to oversee sports venues.  They owned the Metrodome and Met Center.  Although it isn’t entirely clear to me how they came to own the Met Center which was built 10 years before the committee was even formed.  Lou Nanne suggested it was some sort of deal where it was turned over for $1.  (Which is intriguing, because ownership of the Met Center and its upkeep was the major issue that ultimately led to the North Stars leaving)

The committee, which disbanded when the Metrodome closed, consisted of 7 voting members, 6 appointed by the Minneapolis city council and a Chair person appointed by the Governor.  The commissioners were not salaried and served 4 year terms.  During that time period 2 different Chairpersons presided over the committee.  Ron Gornick from 1983-1991 and Bill Hunter from 1991-1993.  Interestingly though, the committee also had a non-voting 'Executive Director' that was salaried and had no term limit. The position is appointed by the chair of the committee.  The Executive Director of the Metropolitan Sports Commission from 1987-2012 (ie the entire time period the North Stars were asking for improvements) was a man named Bill Lester.  An unnamed source with a vast knowledge and experience in Minnesota politics told me that nobody ever even knew who the Chairs were.  Lester was really in charge and he had a HUGE amount of power even though he didn’t have a vote.  I have no evidence of any conspiracies or anything nefarious, but the fact is that the North Stars leaving happened under Bill Lester’s watch.  The Commission’s motives may have been to force the North Stars downtown, but their decisions cost Minnesota more to get an NHL franchise to return than it would have to keep the North Stars here. 

In our minds, it was easy to blame Norm.  Who better to point the finger at than an owner who wasn’t “one of us” and displayed less than favorable character?  This is going to ruffle some Minnesota feathers, mostly because everyone likes hating Norm (me included).  But I think we’ve been blaming the wrong person all these years.  Even though he still sucks. 

 

Sources

-Interview with Lou Nanne – April 1, 2019 

-Crease and Assist - A Legally Compliant Hockey Blog

-Minnesota Legislative Reference Library – Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission  https://www.leg.state.mn.us/lrl/agencies/detail?AgencyID=1063

-Bill Lester/New Chief of Sports Facilities – Gregor W. Pinney - Star Tribune June 1, 1987 

-Lester Resigns After 25 years of Leading Metrodome Commission - Ed Stych - Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal - Jul 19, 2012 https://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/blog/sports-business/2012/07/bill-lester-leaves-metrodome-commission.html

-Longtime Metrodome Chief Leaves - Richard Meryhew and Paul Walsh – July 19, 2012  http://www.startribune.com/longtime-metrodome-chief-leaves/163042006/

-Minnesota North Stars - History and Memories with Lou Nanne - Bob Showers

-Wikipedia


Mondays with Eddie: A Personal Account of a Gopher Legend and the Heisman Trophy

posted Apr 29, 2019, 6:54 AM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Apr 29, 2019, 12:07 PM ]


On Tuesday April 16, The Minnesota Twins lost a heart breaker at home to Toronto.   In the 9th inning CJ Cron was thrown out at the plate trying to score the game tying run.  He was sent home by third base coach Tony Diaz.  There was mixed reaction on Twitter: Some supportive, some critical.  I felt bad for Diaz.  No third base coach wants to make the wrong call.  I’ve been there.  It sucks when you make the wrong decision.  You feel like losing the game is entirely your fault.  But you have to go with your gut because if you start questioning yourself, you’re done. 

As I was typing my reaction on Twitter, I heard a voice from the past inside my head.  The voice said, “Doggone it!  You gotta send that runner Danny!”.  The voice had a similar scowl to Robert Shaw’s character in ‘Jaws’, but not as deep and a bit scratchier.  I immediately recognized the voice, and smiled.  It was Eddie Steinbauer.  No sooner had I smiled, I started to feel guilty that I hadn’t thought about him in some time.   He passed away in 2002 at age 82.

Eddie and I played fastpitch softball together for many years.  On Mondays we played at Dunning and on Thursdays we played at McMurray, both in St. Paul.  Not only did we play together, I was the team’s manager.  Can you imagine that?  A mid 20’s punk like me managing a 70 year-old Minnesota legend?

We all called him ‘Fast Eddie”.  I’m not sure where he received the ‘Fast’ moniker, because he sure wasn’t.  He walked with a bit of a limp.  It also wasn’t his pitching.  He was more of a ‘finesse’ pitcher and his fastball had seen better days. 

Speaking of his fastball, Eddie faced some really good hitters.  We used to worry about him getting hurt on the mound.  Fortunately, Eddie’s fastball was just slow enough that most hitters pulled the ball.  As a matter of fact, he really frustrated a lot of hitters because they were used to faster pitching.  Eventually after the second or third time through the batting order they would start to ‘catch up’ to him and we would bring in another pitcher.  I did see him get hit once, but his body was so thick, I’m not even sure he felt it.  When a 70 year old gets hit by a screaming line drive, your immediate reaction is panic.  Clearly Eddie wasn't like other 70 year olds.  He told us he was fine, kept on pitching and finished the game.  He even hung out with us in the parking lot afterward.  

He used to like to “help” me make coaching decisions.  He never batted because he couldn’t run very well.  So when I was making a lineup he often lobbied to bat if I needed him to.   He’d say, “Danny, gimme an at-bat. I’m feelin’ good today!”   However, most of Eddie’s ‘help’ came when I was coaching third base.  My philosophy on stealing bases and sending runners home was probably a little more conservative than Eddie liked.  He would yell, ”Gotta go! Gotta go!”, playfully criticizing me if I held someone at third and played it safe.  If I didn’t steal a runner he would yell, “You gotta send that runner Danny!”  And then when I’d get back to the dugout he would lecture, “It takes a good catch and a good throw!”, implying that the catcher would have to receive the ball cleanly, and make a perfect throw to stop us from stealing.  (In fastpitch softball the bases are 60 feet, not 90) 

Anyway, that’s the voice I heard in my head after CJ Cron got thrown out at the plate that night.  It wasn’t a bad decision to send that runner.  Toronto just played it perfectly. 

Thinking about Eddie again after so many years reminded me about his contribution to Minnesota Sports.

Eddie played football for the Minnesota Gophers from 1938-1940.  He was a part of the 1940 Gophers National Championship team.  According to the team’s yearbook, he played “End”.  Not sure if that was Defensive End, or Tight End.  I do know that he also played Full Back at some point.  As a matter of fact, he blocked for a certain half back named Bruce Smith.  Smith went on to win the Heisman Trophy in 1941.  Even with all the championships the Gophers won back then, it’s the only Heisman Trophy in Gopher History.  Having said that, Smith had more rushing yards and higher yards per carry in 1940 when Eddie blocked for him, than he did in his Heisman Trophy year. 

Looking back over Gopher archives of that time really makes one appreciate just how good Gopher football was back then.  Not only did Smith win the Heisman trophy, the team won 5 national championships in 8 years.  Read that sentence again, and let that sink in for a few seconds. 

There aren’t many college football teams that can say that. 

After college, Eddie served in WWII.  He was deployed as infantry in Germany.  According to the Star Tribune’s Pat Reusse, Eddie was one of two original members of his company to return home alive.  In addition to his accomplishments for the Gophers, Eddie was inducted into the Owatonna High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame in 1999.  He was also a Golden Gloves boxer. 

He once told me the secret to staying healthy at his age was eating an orange everyday.  It wasn't uncommon to see him at the ballpark peeling and eating an orange between innings. 

I wasn’t there for it, but there was one game where Eddie (who was 70-something at the time) was pitching on a very hot and humid day.  Everyone was worried about him pitching in that intense heat.  The other team had a pitcher who was 50 something.  The 50 year-old pitcher had a heart attack on the mound.   

When Eddie died it wasn’t due to illness or failing health.  The way I was told the story, he went in to have his pacemaker adjusted and after surgery he got an infection.  While at Eddies wake, I stopped to talk to a friend who was also a ball player near Eddies age.  I remember him shouting out, “Damn V.A. killed another one!”

I’ve been lucky to have some really unique encounters with people involved in Minnesota sports.  Most of those we’re very brief.  I was friends with Eddie for 10 years.  I look back now and wish I would have spent more time with him.  I also wish I could pick his brain about all he had been through in his life.  I would have certainly asked him more about his time as a Gopher football player.  I think I was just too young to understand how big of a deal that really was.  I also failed to appreciate how lucky I was to sit in a dugout every Monday and Thursday with a Minnesota sports legend.  

                                                            
                                                       1940 National Championship team.  Eddie is #55, Bruce Smith is #54
 
                                                                                      
                                                          Eddie in 1938                                                    Eddie from the 1940 Team Yearbook

Sources

Top photo of Eddie in 1999 - Dan Whenesota

GopherSports.com Archives (1940 Team photo and photo of Eddie in 1938)

University of Minnesota Athletics - Communications Department (Photo of Eddie from the 1940 gopher team yearbook)

Startribune.com obits - http://www.startribune.com/obituaries/detail/1OAR032002002/

Patrick Reusse - Star Tribune, July 19, 1998, All-around athlete still going strong after 79 years.

https://www.owatonnashs.portal.rschooltoday.com/page/2785

Purple Haze and Draft Daze: A Partial History of Vikings Draft Day Disappointment

posted Apr 14, 2019, 1:35 PM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Apr 20, 2019, 9:49 AM ]

I love the NFL draft.  I really look forward to it.  I think I get excited because we’re often left heartbroken at the end of the previous season and it brings renewal and hope.  Or maybe it’s like Christmas morning.  When draft day is finally here it’s like running downstairs to open presents.   But just like the disappointment of getting socks and underwear instead of toys, some of the Vikings drafts over the years have been less than satisfying.  As a matter of fact, some have been real head shakers.  Every team drafts players who turn out to be busts or has stories of strange things that happen in the war room.  But it seems like the Vikings have turned draft day blunders into an art form. 

Because it’s part of our vibe at WHEN-ESOTA?, we take a look back at some of the Vikings less finer moments on draft day.   Remember, this is all done in good fun and in the hopes of exorcising the demons of the past. 

Do you know why you’re special?  - 1982 (April 27)  

In the 1982 draft, then Vikings General Manager Mike Lynn used the #7 pick to draft running back Darrin Nelson out of Stanford.  I wouldn’t say Nelson was a bust.  He was a long time Viking and had a decent career.  Why then is this considered a draft miscue?   Three picks later the Oakland Raiders took running back Marcus Allen out of USC.  Marcus Allen is a Hall of Famer.  Darrin Nelson dropped the ball on the goal line of the NFC championship game vs the Redskins. 

Completely random thoughts about Darrin Nelson:
1.  Remember his United Way commercials?  “Do you know why you’re special?”  Still makes me giggle.
2.  The KQRS bits where Herschel Walker and Darren would have confusing conversations.  Hilarious. 

Speaking of Herschel Walker….

I actually started writing about the entire Herschel Walker trade and all the details.  But let’s be honest, this trade was one of the biggest disasters in Minnesota sports history.  Trying to summarize it here wasn’t going to work.  So I decided to make it its own blog.  Click here to read.   For right now, let’s just address the draft picks we lost in that trade. 

1990 (April 22-23)
No 1st, 2nd or 6th round picks

1991 (April 21-22)
No 1st or 2nd round picks

1992 (April 26-27)
No 1st or 3rd round picks. 

This would be the third year in a row the Vikings would not have a 1st round pick.  And after not having a 2nd for the last two years, they used this years 2nd round pick on…Robert Harris.  Hmmph. 

Having no 1st or 2nd round pick for that many years in a row is absolutely mind blowing.  I’m shocked the Vikings even survived.  Jimmy Johnson was a genius and absolutely fleeced us.  Dallas used those picks to rebuild their franchise and won 3 Superbowls in the 1990’s.  Ouch.  


Don’t be such a Sapp! - 1995 (April 22)

The Vikings drafted DE Derrick Alexander at #10 overall.  Alexander wasn’t terrible.  He spent 4 years with the Vikings and recorded 17.5 sacks.  However, taken one pick later was a DT named Warren Sapp.  Like Marcus Allen, Warren Sapp is a Hall of famer.  Teams miss on draft picks all the time.  But that’s a pretty big one. 

 

The Curious Case of Dimitrius Underwood- 1999 (April 17)

The Vikings actually had 2 first round picks in this draft.  The first (#11 overall) was used on QB Daunte Culpepper.  With the other (#29 overall), the Vikings selected DE Dimitrius Underwood.  A day after he signed his contract, he walked out of practice and didn’t return.  He said he couldn’t resolve his conflict between football and his faith and forfeited most of his bonus.  He eventually tried to come back but it never really panned out and he was eventually released. This is clearly the Vikings worst draft pick of all time.  Bleacher Report has called it the worst NFL draft pick of all time. 


Fool me once…. 

2002 (April 20)
The Vikings had the 7th overall pick.  The Chiefs had the 6th.  Fro some reason, the Vikings thought that the Chiefs had run out of time.  The Vikings hurried with their pick to the podium attempting to select DT Ryan Sims only to find out that the Chiefs still had time left and were selecting…wait for it.  Ryan Sims.   The Vikings ended up picking Bryant McKinnie.  Luckily, that worked out in our favor, but you would think it would have taught the Vikings a lesson about the draft clock, especially the very next year…. 

2003 (April 26)
The Vikings again had the #7 overall pick.  But they failed to get their card to the podium in time and ended up picking 9th after Jacksonville and Carolina quickly took advantage of the Vikings incompetency.  Jacksonville took QB Byron Leftwich.  Carolina took OT Jordan Gross.  Apparently, the Vikings were trying to complete a trade with Baltimore, but in the words of Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome, the trade was not ‘consummated’.  I think that means we got screwed.  To this day the Vikings claim they got the player they wanted anyways in DT Kevin Williams.  


Dropping the ball- 2005 (April 23)

In 2007 the Vikings selected Troy Williamson with the 7th overall pick.  He was fast, but he couldn’t catch.  Kind of an important trait for a wide receiver to have.  The Vikings thought it was an eyesight problem and sent him to vision specialists….at Nike.  Makes sense.  

And not only was Williamson one of the worst picks the Vikings ever made, there is an additional kick in the crotch to this story.  The Vikings had another pick in the first round that year (#18 overall) which they used to select DE Erasmus James.  Yeah, he was a bust too.  But that’s not the worst of it.  Six picks later the Packers selected a QB out of California named Aaron Rodgers.  Yep…we selected Troy Williamson AND Erasmus James ahead of A-Rodge.  That might be worse than the Timberwolves Taking Rubio and Flynn ahead of Steph Curry.    


Something to Ponder - 2011 (April 28)

In 2011, current Vikings GM Rick Spielman used the 12th overall pick on Christian Ponder.  CHRISTIAN FRICKING PONDER!!!!!!!!  Some think Spielman is currently on the hot seat.  If he ever gets fired, this will be ‘Exhibit A’ in his termination meeting.  

 

Spielman must be a ‘leg man’ – 2012 (April 28)

If Ponder is ‘Exhibit A’, then Exhibits B, C and D will ALL be kickers.  In 2012, Spielman used a 6th round pick to select Blair Walsh.  He kicked well enough his first few seasons that in the summer of 2015 they gave him a 4-year extension.  However, In January 2016 at the frigid TCF Bank Stadium on the U of M campus, the Vikings played in their first playoff game in 3 years, and their first under Head Coach Mike Zimmer.  Walsh missed a potential game winning FG from 27 yards with 26 seconds left and the Seahawks went on to win.  From that point on he was a disaster.  The following year he struggled with both FG’s and extra points and was released after a week 10 loss to the Redskins.

2013 (April 27)
In the 5th round Spielman selected punter Jeff Locke.  At that time only 9 punters had been drafted…EVER.  He lasted 4 seasons with the Vikings. 

2018 (April 28)
Less than 20 kickers have been drafted in the 5th round or higher since 2000.  To quote fivethirtyeight.com’s Michael Salfino, “a fifth-round pick for a kicker is more like a first-rounder for any other position.”  And you would think after the Blair Witch project crashed and burned, Spielman would have thought twice about doing it.  But 6 years to the day of drafting Blair Walsh, he rolled the dice again and selected K Daniel Carlson in the 5th round.  Carlson lasted 2 games.  He was released after missing 3 FGs in a week 2 game with the packers that ended in a tie.  

There’s more to the ridiculousness of drafting Carlson.  Most people don’t realize it, but not only did Spielman draft another disaster kicker, but he traded UP to do it.  ANNNNNDDDD?  The pick he traded up to get?  It was originally ours!   That’s right.  We had originally traded pick #167 to the Jets and then traded to get it back…and used it to draft a frickin kicker.  WTF? 

 

No Experience Necessary – 2016 (April 30)

In the 6th Round Spielman drafted Moritz Boehringer, a TE from Germany who NEVER PLAYED COLLEGE FOOTBALL.  Rolling the dice on someone like him in the 6th round doesn’t bother me as much as watching Spielman and Zimmer being interviewed on NFL network sitting on a couch laughing about it.  It came off like they couldn’t believe they actually did it.  Not a good look. 

 

Decisions that come back to bite you in the ass

When QB Teddy Bridgewater was very severely injured at training camp prior to the 2016 season, the Vikings traded with the Philadelphia Eagles for QB Sam Bradford giving up some draft picks, including a first rounder in 2017.  The Eagles used that pick to draft DE Derek Barnett. 

In the 2018 NFC championship game against the Eagles, that very same Derek Barnett had a strip sack on Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, causing a turnover and giving the Eagles the momentum.  Philadelphia never looked back and went on to win Superbowl LII.

 

 

I’m guessing there are a few more out there that I missed.  I really hope not, because I’m not sure I can my blood pressure can take any more.  But if there are, feel free to submit them and as always, I will add them and credit you. 

 

References

http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/11659891/herschel-walker-trade-25th-anniversary-run-birthed-dallas-cowboys-dynasty

https://bleacherreport.com/articles/229058-the-worst-draft-pick-in-nfl-history-dimitrius-underwood

https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2014/05/07/top-5-goofiest-nfl-draft-moments/

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/memo-to-nfl-gms-stop-drafting-kickers/

Pro football reference

Wikipedia

 

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