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Joe Maddon was a nice diversion. Our own La Velle E. Neal reported that the Twins at least had preliminary discussions with Maddon’s representatives. We’re assuming that went nowhere. We wish it had gone somewhere. We’re guessing the Twins could have and should have tried harder. But it’s moot now, since most of the free world is reporting that Maddon to the Cubs will be a reality very soon.
The attention now returns to the Twins candidates we’ve known about for quite some time. While some of the discussion now could be recycled conjecture, the popular sentiment is that Doug Mientkiewicz is the third-party candidate here and that Paul Molitor and Torey Lovullo are the main challengers for the job.
Honestly, we liked Mientkiewicz the most of the three. If this were a real election, we would still vote our hopes, not our fears. But for reasons that boil down to not much more than instinct and a desire to see what is broken fixed, we would prefer Lovullo over Molitor.
Again, this is probably situational. Lovullo is younger (49 vs. 58), has a reputation for embracing a new way of thinking and has had success as a minor-league manager. He also comes from the outside and was a marginal major league player — something that seems to be a boon when it comes to being a manager, as opposed to being a superstar like Molitor. The theory is that someone who has struggled can relate better and teach better than someone who has excelled. We’re not sure we entirely buy it, but we see the logic and we also know the list of great players who became great managers is not a long one.
Had this been a decision the Twins were making after 2010, or even 2011, before the franchise went into a prolonged spiral, we would have been on board with Molitor with few questions asked. Perhaps it isn’t fair to downgrade his candidacy based on the feeling that he offers more of the same because in all reality he might offer a very different voice and direction for the Twins.
The strange thing is, we know a certain segment of the population would still view Molitor as a home run hire. And we know another segment would be bored to tears with that move. Lovullo is a riskier PR move, but perhaps a more savvy one?
At least we should know soon. Monday would mark the five-week anniversary of the search, and we’re not sure what the gift is for that kind of anniversary.
This might come as a shock, but a team that has lost 90 games in each of the past four seasons, doesn’t have a manager, doesn’t figure to spend much money and had their best prospects waylaid for much of the season and thus delayed their major league arrival … well, that team is not expected to do very well in 2015.
As a matter of fact, the Twins are at 100 to 1 odds to win the World Series — tied with the Rockies, Astros and D-Backs for the longest odds in the majors.
No team is better than 15 to 2 right now, though, so if you have a strong conviction, money can be made.
There’s not much more that can be said about Madison Bumgarner after what he did in the World Series, but let’s just all agree that it is in the discussion for greatest pitching performance ever in a Fall Classic — right up there with two performances that involved the Twins.
The first was in 1965, when Sandy Koufax of the Dodgers pitched back-to-back complete game shutouts (the second in Game 7 on just two days of rest) to defeat the Twins in seven games. The second, of course, was Jack Morris’ 10-inning masterpiece in Game 7 of the 1991 series (he was 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA in three series starts that year, not too shabby).
Bumgarner allowed just one run in 21 innings, and throwing five innings on two days of rest is the modern equivalent of what Koufax did. It’s hard to declare one greater than the other, so let’s just say all of those performances were magnificent.
However, we do still have one giant “what-if” about the ninth inning of Game 7: what if the Royals had sent Alex Gordon home from third base after his two-out hit that rolled all the way to the wall?
Plenty of folks online have insisted he would have been out from anywhere between 15 and 40 feet, but we’re not so sure. Watch the highlight of the play and you’ll see Gordon was between halfway and two-thirds of the way to third base by the time the ball was cleanly retrieved and was heading back toward the infield. Then shortstop Brandon Crawford, fielding the relay about 150 feet from home plate, had to scoop a short-hop throw right as Gordon was slowing down upon reaching third.
We would contend that, at the very least, it would have taken a decent throw from Crawford to get Gordon. That would have been after two Giants players — perhaps with nerves frayed — had already misplayed the ball. Is Gordon probably out? Sure, seven out of 10 times. Then again, opponents had 9 hits in 21 innings off Bumgarner in the World Series. We might have taken our chances on the relay being true vs. getting a hit off of a pitcher who was locked into that kind of zone.
We’ll never know, of course, what might have happened. But at least some of us will always wonder.
We tend to get obsessed with playoff odds in various leagues (in case you didn’t notice with our various posts at various times last year updating you breathlessly on the percentage chance the Wolves and/or Wild had to make the playoffs).
Know what? We’re still obsessed, so we’re here to tell you the Vikings have a 1 percent chance of making the playoffs at the midpoint of their season, per Football Outsiders.
That’s based on what has already happened, plus 50,000 simulations of the rest of the season.
So in, um, 500 of those simulations the Vikings make the playoffs.
These things have a way of changing quickly, though, when expected losses turn into wins (before the Tampa Bay win, the Vikings were at 0.4 percent). We would imagine a victory over Washington on Sunday would bump the odds up a few percentage points, and another one over Chicago after the bye would turn the dial even more.
For now, though, the Vikings are 1 percenters. We will make sure to keep you up to date as further events warrant.
Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater fielded questions Wednesday about his similarity to Washington QB Robert Griffin III, politely brushing the notion aside while complimenting the playmaking ability a healthy Griffin has. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer fielded similar questions about the two QBs, saying he prefers not to make comparisons at all.
That’s good because the two QBs couldn’t really be much different. Yes, they were both first-round draft picks. Yes, they both happen to be black — a similarity that should matter zero when it comes to comparisons.
Griffin is a magnificent athlete — so much so that Washington rode his unique gifts and an unconventional read-option offense to the playoffs in his 2012 rookie season. He can be a good pocket passer, too, but the threat of him running is the thing that gives him the biggest edge.
Bridgewater is a classic pro-style passer who is nimble enough in the pocket to buy himself time and can run when he has to, but in his past two starts he has run a total of two times. (Griffin, by contrast, has averaged 7 rushing attempts per game in his career). He’s a good athlete — all QBs are, to some extent — but he does not rely on athletic gifts to succeed. Rather, his game is built around accuracy and being able to read defenses, skills that will take some time to build in the NFL.
As a matter of fact, he more closely resembles a different Washington QB in terms of his skill set: Colt McCoy. Yes, Bridgewater should have a higher ceiling and was a first-round pick compared to McCoy’s third round selection, but if you compare the scouting reports from NFL.com on the two pre-draft, it’s uncanny:
Bridgewater: A calculated, football-smart, precision-matchup rhythm passer, Bridgewater would be best suited entering a warm-weather or dome environment such as those most common in the South divisions. Would stand to benefit heavily from operating a short, dink-and-dunk rhythm passing game. Compensates for a lack of elite arm talent and prototype measureables with the intangibles and football intelligence that could elevate the other 52 players around him.
McCoy: McCoy is a natural leader with high character. Played with a lot of intelligence in Texas’ system which he mastered. Was extremely productive. Possesses a quick release. Displays great accuracy in the short passing game and puts the ball in a position to set up his receivers for run after the catch. Has the foot-speed to avoid the rush and buy extra time. … McCoy lacks a cannon for an arm. Can fit the ball into spots on intermediate routes at times but will struggle with the deep ball.
It’s unclear whether McCoy — who was quite good for Washington in Monday’s upset over Dallas — or Griffin will play Sunday against the Vikings. If it is Bridgewater vs. McCoy, you’ll see two very similar QBs — far more so than if it’s Bridgewater vs. Griffin.
|Tampa Bay||11/2/14 12:00 PM|
|Arizona||11/2/14 12:00 PM|
|Philadelphia||11/2/14 12:00 PM|
|NY Jets||11/2/14 12:00 PM|
|Jacksonville||11/2/14 12:00 PM|
|San Diego||11/2/14 12:00 PM|
|Washington||11/2/14 12:00 PM|
|St. Louis||11/2/14 3:05 PM|
|Denver||11/2/14 3:25 PM|
|Oakland||11/2/14 3:25 PM|
|Baltimore||11/2/14 7:30 PM|
|Indianapolis||11/3/14 7:30 PM|
|Oklahoma City||85||4th Qtr 2:11|
|(2) Florida State||42||FINAL|
|Cincinnati||10/31/14 7:00 PM|
|Tulsa||10/31/14 7:02 PM|
|Air Force||11/1/14 10:30 AM|
|ULM||11/1/14 11:00 AM|
|(19) Oklahoma||11/1/14 11:00 AM|
|Northwestern||11/1/14 11:00 AM|
|(24) Duke||11/1/14 11:00 AM|
|Maryland||11/1/14 11:00 AM|
|Wisconsin||11/1/14 11:00 AM|
|Rice||11/1/14 11:00 AM|
|(21) East Carolina||11/1/14 11:00 AM|
|UCF||11/1/14 11:00 AM|
|Boston College||11/1/14 11:30 AM|
|North Carolina||11/1/14 11:30 AM|
|Washington||11/1/14 12:00 PM|
|Central Mich||11/1/14 12:00 PM|
|Western Mich||11/1/14 1:30 PM|
|Western Ky||11/1/14 2:00 PM|
|NC State||11/1/14 2:00 PM|
|Virginia||11/1/14 2:30 PM|
|Purdue||11/1/14 2:30 PM|
|BYU||11/1/14 2:30 PM|
|(10) TCU||11/1/14 2:30 PM|
|(20) West Virginia|
|Indiana||11/1/14 2:30 PM|
|Florida||11/1/14 2:30 PM|
|Georgia State||11/1/14 2:30 PM|
|Kentucky||11/1/14 3:00 PM|
|Kansas||11/1/14 3:00 PM|
|Texas State||11/1/14 3:00 PM|
|New Mexico St|
|Houston||11/1/14 3:00 PM|
|USC||11/1/14 3:30 PM|
|Arkansas State||11/1/14 4:00 PM|
|South Alabama||11/1/14 4:00 PM|
|New Mexico||11/1/14 4:30 PM|
|UAB||11/1/14 6:00 PM|
|(4) Auburn||11/1/14 6:00 PM|
|(7) Ole Miss|
|Old Dominion||11/1/14 6:00 PM|
|Colorado State||11/1/14 6:00 PM|
|San Jose St|
|Arkansas||11/1/14 6:15 PM|
|(1) Miss State|
|Stanford||11/1/14 6:30 PM|
|Tennessee||11/1/14 6:30 PM|
|Texas||11/1/14 6:30 PM|
|Southern Miss||11/1/14 7:00 PM|
|(6) Notre Dame||11/1/14 7:00 PM|
|Oklahoma State||11/1/14 7:00 PM|
|(11) Kansas State|
|Illinois||11/1/14 7:00 PM|
|(13) Ohio State|
|(14) Arizona||11/1/14 9:30 PM|
|California||11/1/14 9:30 PM|
|San Diego St||11/1/14 9:30 PM|
|Wyoming||11/1/14 9:45 PM|
|(18) Utah||11/1/14 10:00 PM|
|(15) Arizona State|
|Utah State||11/1/14 10:00 PM|
|Bowling Green||11/4/14 7:00 PM|
|Toledo||11/4/14 7:00 PM|
|Buffalo||11/5/14 7:00 PM|
|Northern Ill||11/5/14 7:00 PM|
|(22) Clemson||11/6/14 6:30 PM|
|Sporting Kansas City||1||FINAL|
|Red Bull New York||2|
|Hamilton||10/31/14 6:30 PM|
|Winnipeg||11/1/14 3:00 PM|
|Brt Columbia||11/1/14 6:00 PM|
|Toronto||11/2/14 11:00 AM|
|Ottawa||11/7/14 6:00 PM|
|Calgary||11/7/14 9:00 PM|
|Montreal||11/8/14 3:00 PM|
|Edmonton||11/8/14 6:00 PM|