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The Gophers were a quotable bunch at Tuesday’s media gathering, and we’d like to think Sid got everyone off on the right foot. He started by yelling at us about Christian Ponder, and he carried it over when head coach Jerry Kill came to the podium.
The good times spilled over to the portion of the access period in which we get to talk to players. Defensive lineman Cameron Botticelli and QB Chris Streveler (pictured) had notable zingers. Let’s get to it:
*Much of the focus between Saturday and now has been on a Gophers passing attack that led to just one completion in the victory over San Jose State. Part of that was because of how well Minnesota was running the ball. Offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover, while noting that such imbalance probably won’t cut it in the Big Ten, praised Streveler for the decisions he made in the read-option game. In fact, he said it was as well as he has seen a QB run the read-option under his tutelage. Still, a QB is often judged by the passing game, and Streveler admitted he’s heard some chirping on campus this week over his 1-for-7 throwing day.
Said Streveler: “Yeah, some of my buddies class have been like ‘Hey, nice completion’ or whatever. It’s just funny. I like to joke around about it, and we got the win so it doesn’t really matter to be honest. I’ve gotten a little ribbing from that, but it’s all right.”
*Botticelli was being asked about playing at Michigan in front of a huge crowd at The Big House. He started rattling off the short list of Big Ten stadiums in which he’s never played. At the end, a reporter reminded him that Rutgers and Maryland are also on that list.
“We’re counting them as Big Ten schools?” he quipped with a smile before making sure reporters knew he was kidding around.
Getting fans in the stands can be a challenge for various college football programs, including the Gophers. But Michigan? The Big House is usually full and rocking without much help.
As such, fans must have been pretty surprised to learn they could get two tickets to Saturday’s Gophers/Michigan game in Ann Arbor — face value of $75 each — for just the price of two Cokes at a Michigan convenience store.
Fans pounced on the deal, of course — which turned out to be a botched promotion. Per the Michigan Daily:
The Athletic Department later said in a statement that the promotion was run mistakenly.
“Coke as a partner of ours … purchased a limited block of tickets for the Minnesota game for a Coke retail activation aimed at Michigan students,” the release said. “Due to a miscommunication in the approval process, this promotion should not have run as is. As a result, it is being pulled immediately. However all purchases to date will be honored by Coke.”
The promotion sold out at about 7:45 p.m. at the U-go’s in the Union.
Nothing this cool ever happened to us while we were in college in Minnesota, though it was the mid-to-late 1990s and we could wear all the flannel we wanted without fear of reprisal, so it all evens out.
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) September 23, 2014
An obvious punchline came along with the news Monday that MLB has formed a committee to study pace of play.
The other members are Mets general manager Sandy Alderson; MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark; Red Sox partner Michael Gordon; COO and Commissioner-elect Rob Manfred; MLB executive vice president, baseball operations Joe Torre; and Red Sox chairman Tom Werner.
Two guys from the Red Sox and the former Yankees manager (not to mention Clark, who played for the Yankees and Red Sox)? Guys who never met a game their teams couldn’t extend with ceaseless pitching changes, foul balls and batting gloves that weren’t quite adjusted right?
Once we’re past the comic relief, though, there is this: It’s at least a positive sign that MLB recognizes it has a pace of play problem, and a committee to study ways to fix it has the potential to be a step in the right direction depending on how far they want to go.
We’re guessing they won’t go far enough — we advocate for drastic measures such as a pitch clock (used in some college games) and a rule that gives teams the chance to make only one mid-inning pitching change per game — but big change usually starts small, particularly with a tradition-guarding sport like baseball.
Anything that promises to address the molasses-slow pace of games by the start of next season is a good thing.
Since Week 1′s convincing victory over the Rams, in which the Vikings looked crisp and smart on both sides of the ball, they’ve lost Adrian Peterson, starting QB Matt Cassel and — from the sound of it — tight end Kyle Rudolph for considerable amounts of time.
They’ve also managed just one TD and 16 total points in that two-game span, both losses that appeared winnable with functional offensive play.
The depletion of personnel can be viewed as both an explanation and an excuse — different versions of the same sentiment, really — for the Vikings’ poor offensive showings against the Patriots and Saints.
What seems fair to say is this: The Vikings — both players and offensive coordinator Norv Turner — have made the worst of a bad situation.
Rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater performed decently in relief of Cassel on Sunday, but he produced zero touchdowns. The running backs filling in for Peterson don’t lack effort, but they haven’t come close to replacing him. Turner, for his part, seems either reluctant to open up the play book with some more downfield passes or has quarterbacks who don’t feel comfortable letting it go in his scheme. Either way, its resulted in a more predictable offense than the one we imagined we would see (and the one we were told we would see) from Turner. It has, at many times, been positively Musgrave-esque.
Offensive players in the locker room Monday said it was a matter of eliminating mistakes — there always seems to be one player (not the same player) off on a play — while continuing to put in the work. Wide receiver Jarius Wright talked of how the offense showed its potential in the preseason, though he also acknowledged that doesn’t mean much now.
We often learn the most from ourselves and others during times of adversity. This certainly qualifies as such a time for the Vikings. It’s early, but so far all we’ve learned is that a tough time can, in fact, get worse.
We will even acknowledge that some of the moves the Twins made with players we are about to describe were for the right reasons — building back up a depleted minor league pitching prospect roster.
All that said, my goodness, would you look at all the former Twins, most of them on offense, who are having big years.
Three of the top eight hitters in the NL, in terms of batting average, are ex-Twins (Justin Morneau, Ben Revere and Denard Span), while Carlos Gomez is No. 25. If batting average isn’t your thing, Morneau (fifth) and Gomez (17th) are up there in OPS.
That doesn’t even get into Michael Cuddyer, last year’s NL batting champ, who is hitting .333 and has homered in his last three games but doesn’t qualify on any leaderboards because injuries have limited his at bats this season.
On the pitching side, Vance Worley is 8-4 with a 2.93 ERA after throwing eight shutout innings Sunday for the Pirates. Francisco Liriano’s win total has regressed this season with the Pirates, but his 3.45 ERA in 151 innings would look mighty fine for the Twins.
Span and Revere were traded for pitching prospects, moves that made sense for a team going nowhere. Cuddyer left as a free agent, while Morneau was traded away. Both needed fresh starts. Worley was a disaster here, while Liriano was an enigma.
Still, it’s hard to look at what those players are producing now and not wonder 1) what that would have looked like on the 2014 Twins and/or 2) why some of those players weren’t as productive here as they have been elsewhere.
With pitchers, we can say the league switch makes some difference, but that’s also a little overblown. League average ERA in the NL this season is 3.67; in the AL, it’s 3.85. We’re pretty sure the Twins would take what Worley and Liriano have given the Pirates, even with a couple tenths of a run added on.
|NY Mets - B. Colon||6:05 PM|
|Washington - T. Roark|
|Baltimore - U. Jimenez||6:05 PM|
|NY Yankees - B. McCarthy|
|Kansas City - Y. Ventura||6:05 PM|
|Cleveland - D. Salazar|
|Seattle - F. Hernandez||6:07 PM|
|Toronto - R. Dickey|
|Chicago WSox - S. Carroll||6:08 PM|
|Detroit - D. Price|
|Philadelphia - C. Hamels||6:10 PM|
|Miami - H. Alvarez|
|Pittsburgh - G. Cole||6:10 PM|
|Atlanta - A. Wood|
|Milwaukee - M. Fiers||6:10 PM|
|Cincinnati - J. Cueto|
|Tampa Bay - A. Cobb||6:10 PM|
|Boston - C. Buchholz|
|Houston - B. Oberholtzer||7:05 PM|
|Texas - N. Martinez|
|St. Louis - S. Miller||7:05 PM|
|Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks|
|Arizona - A. Chafin||7:10 PM|
|Minnesota - K. Gibson|
|LA Angels - W. LeBlanc||9:05 PM|
|Oakland - S. Gray|
|San Francisco - M. Bumgarner||9:10 PM|
|Los Angeles - Z. Greinke|
|Colorado - J. De La Rosa||9:10 PM|
|San Diego - R. Erlin|
|NY Giants||9/25/14 7:25 PM|
|Buffalo||9/28/14 12:00 PM|
|Green Bay||9/28/14 12:00 PM|
|Tennessee||9/28/14 12:00 PM|
|Carolina||9/28/14 12:00 PM|
|Detroit||9/28/14 12:00 PM|
|Tampa Bay||9/28/14 12:00 PM|
|Miami||9/28/14 12:00 PM|
|Jacksonville||9/28/14 3:05 PM|
|Atlanta||9/28/14 3:25 PM|
|Philadelphia||9/28/14 3:25 PM|
|New Orleans||9/28/14 7:30 PM|
|New England||9/29/14 7:30 PM|
|San Jose||8:00 PM|
|Texas Tech||9/25/14 6:30 PM|
|(24) Oklahoma State|
|Appalachian St||9/25/14 6:30 PM|
|(11) UCLA||9/25/14 9:00 PM|
|(15) Arizona State|
|Middle Tennessee||9/26/14 7:00 PM|
|Fresno State||9/26/14 7:00 PM|
|Texas-El Paso||9/27/14 11:00 AM|
|(25) Kansas State|
|Tennessee||9/27/14 11:00 AM|
|Vanderbilt||9/27/14 11:00 AM|
|Wyoming||9/27/14 11:00 AM|
|(9) Michigan State|
|Northwestern||9/27/14 11:00 AM|
|TCU||9/27/14 11:00 AM|
|Iowa||9/27/14 11:00 AM|
|Tulane||9/27/14 11:00 AM|
|So Florida||9/27/14 11:00 AM|
|Colorado State||9/27/14 11:30 AM|
|Western Mich||9/27/14 11:30 AM|
|Maryland||9/27/14 12:30 PM|
|Akron||9/27/14 12:30 PM|
|Bowling Green||9/27/14 2:00 PM|
|Arkansas||9/27/14 2:30 PM|
|(6) Texas A&M|
|Kent State||9/27/14 2:30 PM|
|Western Ky||9/27/14 2:30 PM|
|Minnesota||9/27/14 2:30 PM|
|Wake Forest||9/27/14 2:30 PM|
|FIU||9/27/14 2:30 PM|
|(1) Florida State||9/27/14 2:30 PM|
|Miami-Ohio||9/27/14 2:30 PM|
|Colorado||9/27/14 3:00 PM|
|Louisiana Tech||9/27/14 3:00 PM|
|Texas||9/27/14 3:00 PM|
|Temple||9/27/14 3:00 PM|
|(16) Stanford||9/27/14 3:15 PM|
|TX-San Antonio||9/27/14 4:00 PM|
|South Alabama||9/27/14 4:00 PM|
|Cincinnati||9/27/14 5:00 PM|
|(22) Ohio State|
|Rice||9/27/14 6:00 PM|
|Missouri||9/27/14 6:00 PM|
|(13) So Carolina|
|Boise State||9/27/14 6:00 PM|
|North Carolina||9/27/14 6:00 PM|
|Central Mich||9/27/14 6:00 PM|
|Troy||9/27/14 6:00 PM|
|New Mexico St||9/27/14 6:30 PM|
|Memphis||9/27/14 6:30 PM|
|(10) Ole Miss|
|Duke||9/27/14 6:30 PM|
|Texas State||9/27/14 7:00 PM|
|Washington St||9/27/14 7:00 PM|
|(8) Notre Dame||9/27/14 7:00 PM|
|(7) Baylor||9/27/14 7:00 PM|
|UNLV||9/27/14 7:00 PM|
|San Diego St|
|Illinois||9/27/14 8:00 PM|
|Oregon State||9/27/14 9:30 PM|
|Nevada||9/27/14 9:30 PM|
|San Jose St|
|Montreal||9/26/14 6:00 PM|
|Saskatchewan||9/26/14 9:00 PM|
|Hamilton||9/27/14 5:30 PM|
|Brt Columbia||9/27/14 8:30 PM|