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If they are going to do that, though, they’ll really have to work for it, according to an analysis of early-season schedules for AL teams by ESPN.com’s Buster Olney.
Olney ranks the Twins’ early slate as the third-toughest among the 15 teams in the league. He writes (Insider):
Games against teams that had records over .500 in 2014: 30 of their first 40.
Home/road: 20 of their first 40 are at home.
Noteworthy: Not only do the Twins have their share of in-division games against rivals from the AL Central early, but they also have a four-game series against Oakland and a two-game series against the Pirates. Before the All-Star break, the Twins will see the Tigers in 13 games and the Royals in 13 games. Good luck with that.
We should probably remember that as we watch the first 40 games of the season. The likelihood that most fans will be forgiving if there is a slow start, though? Not so good.
On the bright side, if the Twins do get off to a strong start after 40 games, their schedule should ease up as the season goes along.
And then we noticed that Nikola Mirotic had another monster game for the Bulls — 26 points and eight rebounds in a big win over Oklahoma City — and we had to fall down the rabbit hole that is the 2011 draft and re-explore, albeit briefly, just how damaging one night was to the Wolves.
I was at Target Center, in the media room, that night, as the Wolves and David Kahn traded pick after pick after pick. Here is a summary of that night, from NBA.com:
In addition to taking Derrick Williams with the No. 2 pick, Minnesota …
-The Wolves traded point guard Jonny Flynn, a future second-round pick and the 20th pick – Donatas Motiejunas – to Houston for center Brad Miller, the draft rights to No. 23 pick Nikola Mirotic and No. 38 Chandler Parsons and a future first-round pick.
-Traded Mirotic to the Chicago Bulls for the draft rights to No. 28 Norris Cole and No. 43 Malcolm Lee and cash.
-Traded Cole to the Miami Heat for No. 31 Bojan Bogdanovic, a future second-round pick and cash.
-Traded Bogdanovic to New Jersey for a future second-round pick and cash.
-Traded Parsons back to Houston for cash.
In a lot of cases, No. 2 picks become good or great NBA players. That did not happen with Williams in Minnesota, of course, as he was dispatched last season in exchange for Luc Mbah a Moute.
That was a big miss. The top of that draft, after Kyrie Irving, was a crap shoot. Williams was the consensus right pick, and he didn’t work out. There were players taken immediately after him who have become productive (but not great) players. Klay Thompson at No. 11 has become great, but that would have been a huge stretch. So the Wolves can be forgiven, but it still hurts.
What hurts more, though, is the strange run of just how good all the players they gave away after that have become. It’s odd for No. 20, No. 23, No. 28 and No. 38 picks to do what they have done. But …
*Motiejunas has developed into a regular for the Rockets, averaging 11 points this season in 28 minutes per game.
*Mirotic has at least 23 points in each of his past three games and seems to be blossoming into a very good player for the Bulls.
*Cole is a quick and functional backup point guard who was in the regular rotation for the Heat’s championship contending teams.
*Parsons is a very good shooter and all-around player who is averaging close to 15 ppg in his career.
That 2011 draft has looked bad for a while. The emergence of Mirotic only makes it even worse. The Wolves made plenty of personnel blunders during the Kahn Era, so it’s hard to say one night hurt more than any other. But June 23, 2011 … that ranks right up there with the worst.
But when it comes to the notion of the Vikings making a play for Brandon Marshall — the talented WR whom the Bears are reportedly seeking to trade — let’s please just shut it down. Just say no.
Esteemed colleague Matt Vensel took a swing at this already in his mailbag today, and we’d like to pile onto what he wrote.
For as good as Marshall is/can be, this is not the time for the Vikings to make a play for a costly impact player. This is a year in which they need to draft another wide receiver in one of the first three rounds and hope that that player, Cordarrelle Patterson or Charles Johnson develops into a No. 1 receiver.
As nice as it would be for Teddy Bridgewater to have another sure-thing veteran, Greg Jennings is already filling that role. His production does not match Marshall’s production, and his $11 million cap number is hefty. But even if the Vikings cut Jennings to make a play for Marshall, the price to pay in a trade wouldn’t make sense for a rebuilding team.
Marshall — if he’s traded at all — should go to a team that is a wide receiver away from true contention, not an improving team that figures to be at least a year or two away from being a serious threat.
And the Vikings should set their sites on patience and minor upgrades in more important areas.
The law of a Minnesota sports fan states that when things are going bad, you will find silver linings … and when things are going good, you will find things to worry about.
The Wild traded for Devan Dubnyk, he’s been fantastic … and now fans are naturally worried that he’s going to be overworked. He has made 21 consecutive starts for the Wild, tying the team record.
That’s a nice run, and by modern standards that qualifies Dubnyk as a workhorse. The real fretting is coming about in earnest now, though, as the Wild has five sets of back-to-back games between now and the end of the regular season — starting tonight and Friday against Washington and Carolina.
The worrying is very Minnesotan. But it’s also very subjective and bordering on nonsense. By virtue of not being the No. 1 goalie in Arizona before being traded here, Dubnyk still ranks just 23rd in the NHL in games played among goalies this season. So he’s fresher than a lot of other netminders right now, assuming he takes care of himself.
More than that, though, being “tired” is often as much of a mental game as it is a physical game. In that sense, it will affect us as much as we let it affect us. If goalies are supposed to rest on one end of back-to-back games, that becomes the accepted norm.
Here’s the bottom line: If Dubnyk can play and wants to play, he should play. Because there’s no rule that says he can’t — just a shift in expectations over the years.
This is the extreme, but Glenn Hall started more than 550 consecutive games in goal spanning more than seven full seasons (including playoffs) in the 1950s and 1960s. Sure, this was a different era, and with six teams in the league — none on the West Coast — travel was shorter. But it was also a different era of travel comfort and recovery methods. Performance-enhancing drugs, by and large, were cigarettes and bourbon.
We went back and looked at Hall’s streak. During the seven full seasons in which Hall played every game (490 games in 70-game seasons), he played both ends of back-to-backs during the regular season 148 times (including a back-to-back-to-back Jan. 1-3, 1960). So 296 of his 490 starts were in back-to-backs.
Every goalie is different. Every body is different. Hall was a maniac who didn’t even wear a mask or helmet during his streak.
We’re not suggesting Dubnyk should be Hall. What we are suggesting is that playing back-to-back games is all a matter of perspective and that it’s not crazy to think Dubnyk can play through this final month — or at least until the Wild is safely into the playoffs — as long as his body feels good and he remains stout in goal.
The only crazy thing is worrying about it before it happens.
Adrian Peterson hugged Vikings GM Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer outside his Texas home today. There’s proof, on the TV.
Frankly, we’re surprised we haven’t been deluged with emails from public relations contacts trying to get us to interview hug experts.
(Actually, we’re kind of sad about this. Maybe there aren’t hug experts? Maybe we could become one?)
Peterson met with the two Vikings reps for four hours, and the meeting went well, and blah blah blah back to the hugs.
Our breathtaking analysis:
*Peterson did not initiate the first hug with Spielman. AP was going in for a casual handshake, from what we could see, but Rick called an audible and went in for the hug. Peterson seemed fine with it. After that, it was only natural for Zimmer and Peterson to hug. A handshake would have been weird.
*All three guys showed some solid bro-hug technique. The hugs were of appropriate length and scope.
*Spielman spends more on the tailoring of his sport coats than Zimmer. Peterson looked like he was dressed to attend a volleyball match.
*We wouldn’t read to much into the hugs other than that it’s probably a good sign that when Spielman went for the hug, Peterson didn’t instead punch him in the face.
And this concludes our report on the Peterson Hugs.
|Houston||0||Bottom 6th Inning|
|Washington||7||Bottom 6th Inning|
|Miami||4||Bottom 5th Inning|
|Minnesota||1||Bottom 6th Inning|
|NY Yankees||3||Bottom 4th Inning|
|Baltimore||0||Top 2nd Inning|
|Detroit||3||Bottom 6th Inning|
|Los Angeles||2:05 PM|
|San Francisco||2:05 PM|
|Chicago WSox||2:05 PM|
|Kansas City||2:05 PM|
|LA Lakers||7:00 PM|
|Miss Valley St||75|
|Winthrop||16||1st Half 5:51|
|Northern Ill||6:00 PM|
|Bowling Green||6:00 PM|
|Central Mich||6:00 PM|
|Morehead State||6:30 PM|
|Coll of Charleston||7:30 PM|
|Texas Tech||8:00 PM|
|Loyola Marymount||10:30 PM|
|(21) George Washington||77|
|(3) South Carolina||58|
|Mercer||44||2nd Half 4:23|
|East Tenn St||54|
|Richmond||24||2nd Half 17:57|
|Miami-Florida||29||2nd Half 17:22|
|(2) Notre Dame||40|
|Siena||25||1st Half 2:38|
|Washington St||10||1st Half 6:49|
|(9) Arizona State||11|
|Ark-Pine Bluff||33||1st Half 0:19|
|Miss Valley St||26|
|(23) Rutgers||0||1st Half 18:40|
|Tennessee St||2:00 PM|
|Loyola Marymount||5||1st Half 15:59|
|(18) Texas A&M||2:25 PM|
|Saint Josephs||3:30 PM|
|Santa Clara||4:30 PM|
|Virginia Tech||5:00 PM|
|(7) Florida State|
|Rhode Island||6:00 PM|
|North Florida||6:00 PM|
|(20) Fla Gulf Coast|
|Kennesaw St||6:00 PM|
|USC Upstate||6:00 PM|
|Saint Peters||6:00 PM|
|(13) Princeton||6:00 PM|
|(15) North Carolina||7:00 PM|
|San Jose St||7:00 PM|
|Utah State||8:00 PM|
|(8) Oregon State|
|New Mexico||8:00 PM|
|(12) Kentucky||8:25 PM|
|(11) Miss State|
|San Diego State||8:30 PM|
|Texas Tech||8:30 PM|
|Boise State||9:00 PM|
Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?