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This is a make-or-break home stand for the Twins. The players have said it. Management has said it. Logically, everyone knows it. Though the odds were stacked against Minnesota at the All-Star break, they came out of it with a 44-50 record, 6.5 games back in the Wild Card race. A big home stand — say, 8-2 — would have squared their record at .500 and gave at least the glimmer of meaningful games in August.
But their starting pitching, as it has done every year starting in 2011, failed them. First it was the regulars (Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes and Kevin Correia) blowing up in a three-game sweep against the Rays.
And now it sure looks as though, through a combination of injuries and their own ineffectiveness, five of the final seven games of the home stand will be started by Yohan Pino (twice, assuming he pitches the finale Sunday after throwing Tuesday), Anthony Swarzak (filling in today for Kyle Gibson), Kris Johnson (Monday) and Logan Darnell (Saturday).
Pino is 30 years old. Johnson will turn 30 in October. Swarzak will be 29 in September and has a 5.79 ERA in 28 career starts for the Twins.
Pino and Johnson were very good at Class AAA Rochester this year, but we really have to wonder if there is much of a realistic chance that either of them is in the long-term plans with the major league club. Swarzak has been a decent long reliever, but we’ve seen what he can do as a starter and it isn’t pretty. Darnell is 25 and was also pitching decently at Rochester, so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and see what he can do.
But those other guys … we certainly wish them well, but they’re not exactly the types to breed confidence for the present or the future.
This home stand, given the desperate circumstances, could have been the perfect time to give Alex Meyer, Trevor May, or both of them, a chance on the hill. Meyer is the flamethrowing 24-year-old with 107 Ks in 95.1 innings at Rochester. His last four starts: 24 IP, 5 ER, 24 strikeouts. May had a calf strain that kept him out for a few weeks, but he returned to Rochester and pitched three innings Saturday. Maybe this coming weekend wouldn’t be the perfect time for a debut, but theoretically he could still work 5 innings. He’ll be 25 in September, too, so the clock is ticking.
Instead, it sounds like we’ll be seeing more of the same. The Twins are 1-1 so far in the games started by the fill-in quartet and 1-4 overall on this home stand. It will be up to Swarzak, Darnell and Pino to try to keep a make-or-break home stand that’s already broken from turning into a complete downward spiral.
And it will be up to Twins fans to decide just how far their patience can stretch.
Christian Ponder might be a mediocre NFL quarterback, but we’re pretty sure he’ll be a good dad.
He and wife Samantha reportedly had a baby girl recently. Before that, he read a bunch of baby books, and by the account of this item from ESPN.com, it sounds as though he’s taking fatherhood seriously:
They named their little girl Bowden Sainte-Claire Ponder — the middle name is the same as Samantha’s, while the first, of course, pays homage to retired Florida State coach Bobby Bowden — and they plan to call her “Scout,” after the young narrator of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Christian Ponder said his wife contacted his old college coach and arrange a surprise congratulatory phone call after the baby was born.
“It’s crazy to take such a responsibility — you have someone that’s so dependent on you,” Ponder said. “You’ve got to take care of her and your family. It’s an eye-opening experience, it’s fun and it’s scary at the same time.”
Amen, Christian. Our little girl, Anabel, also shares a middle name with her mother (Marie), though not a first name with a legendary college football coach.
Fun and scary at the same time is about the only way to properly describe the first few weeks of fatherhood.
Unless you get your sports news from a sports anchor at a TV station in Maine, you are inclined to believe a possible Kevin Love/Andrew Wiggins trade is not exactly a done deal.
But that doesn’t mean nothing is happening, as both ESPN’s Marc Stein and Yahoo’s NBA guru Woj have advanced the ball, so to speak, with reporting today.
First, per ESPN, which had their report up first:
The Cleveland Cavaliers are firmly in the lead to acquire Kevin Love but the Chicago Bulls are making a renewed push to get into the trade mix for the All-Star power forward, according to sources close to the process.
Sources told ESPN.com the Cavs are increasingly optimistic that they are progressing toward a trade framework that the Minnesota Timberwolves will accept in exchange for Love to pair him with his Team USA teammate LeBron James.
Cleveland’s offer, sources said, would be headlined by No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, 2013′s No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett and a future first-round pick. At least one more player might have to added to the package to satisfy NBA trade rules.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are pursuing trade components to include as part of a package with Minnesota to acquire All-Star forward Kevin Love, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Cleveland’s discussions with Minnesota have escalated with the Cavaliers’ willingness to include No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins in the deal, sources said.
Minnesota wants a package for Love to include guard J.J. Barea, who has $4.5 million left on his expiring deal – and possibly guard Kevin Martin, who has three years and $21 million left. As part of a larger deal, the Cavaliers want to include 2013 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett and a future No. 1 pick for Love.
So where do we stand? Well, about where we were 24 hours ago, but on firmer ground. It sounds like a Cavs/Wolves trade is certainly in play and possibly progressing nicely toward reality. It sounds like the principles involved — Love for Wiggins, Bennett and a No. 1 pick — remain consistent. And it sounds like the work that still needs to be done is making the salaries match with other pieces. If that’s all that remains, we’re not at “done deal” yet, but we’re getting closer.
The narrative in the story of Chris Kluwe vs. the Vikings has shifted somewhat to a cross-examination of Kluwe and a section of the report summary released last week that involved the former punter tearing a hole in his shorts and making a joke about former Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky in front of Vikings conditioning coach Tom Kanavy (a Penn State alum).
To us, this represents an interesting dynamic in the whistle-blowing from Kluwe, since it could be viewed that he loses ground as the arbiter of right and wrong in his accusations against Mike Priefer when it becomes known that he, too, can act in such poor taste.
On the other hand, this is a completely separate issue from anything Priefer did or didn’t do — and shouldn’t cloud the picture when it comes to the overall question of the culture that permeated the Vikings.
Kluwe recognizes as much, but he also still can’t appear to get out of his own way when it comes to the Penn State issue, which he does not deny. Given a chance to flat-out apologize for it because it was in poor taste — cutting a hole in your shorts and portraying yourself as a victim of child abuse is 100 percent in poor taste, regardless of how you try to frame the intent of the joke — Kluwe got about halfway there in an interview with SI Now before attempting to ascend back to a position of higher moral ground. Per SI:
“I realize that a lot of people found my joke in poor taste, which I’m sure was the entire purpose of the Vikings leaking it. Character assassination is a tried-and-true tactic for any sort of harassment lawsuit. But it’s something where I was making fun of the culture at Penn State, and if it offended people, then I apologize. I’m sorry for that.”
Nope. That’s not an apology. That’s a half-apology, sorry if you took it the wrong way apology, which is the worst kind. He continued:
“But to make it seem like I was making fun of victims of child abuse, I mean, that is horrific. And really that kind of upsets me from a personal perspective, that the Vikings would try and spin it that way, because that’s insulting.”
Stop. Kluwe is clearly a smart guy. We’ve talked to him on multiple occasions and found him thoughtful, engaging and obviously well-spoken when it comes to putting thoughts together. We are also not numb to the idea that words or actions in private can take on a different, darker tenor than what we say or do publicly. If 100 percent of everything we ever said was part of a long official record, most of us would be in trouble.
But this Penn State “joke” is not a subjective matter any more than Priefer’s alleged “nuke the gays” comment is.
They are still two different issues, and we should do our best to separate out Kluwe’s holier-than-thou half-apology from the heart of the matter, but he didn’t do himself any favors in that interview.
But after sleeping on it (not literally, that would be weird), we begrudgingly decided the item about Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski saying he would trade for Kevin Love if he was the Cavaliers is at least interesting from a couple of standpoints.
As much as Krzyzewski is mocked by the anti-Duke crowd, nobody would argue that he has had a massive amount of success as a coach. He knows hoops, and he has coached Love twice on an international level, including at the 2012 London Olympics.
He is also a college coach with a tremendous amount of respect for the game at that level, so when he says he would trade No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins for Love without “one second of hesitancy” it holds some water. Coach K told John Feinstein on CBS Radio:
“He’s a double-double guy, but he’s a double-double guy that can spread the court. There aren’t many double-double guys, if any, who spread the court. He can go inside and outside…. No pun intended, but I love Kevin Love.”
He also outlined the LeBron factor — James will turn 30 this year and should prefer a sure thing to partner up with in Cleveland.
“You do not want to waste any year of a great player’s career,” he said.
This could just amount to one guy’s respected opinion. Or it could also be the culmination of whispers he is hearing from plugged in basketball folks. James was also on that 2012 Olympic team. It wouldn’t even be shocking if Krzyzewski was doing his pal LeBron a favor by advancing the cause of a Cleveland trade.
So if a respected basketball mind is advocating the trade for the Cavs, why do we still like it for the Wolves? Because it’s a deal that clearly benefits both sides.
If Wiggins does sign this week, as has been reported, a deal cannot officially happen for 30 days thereafter. If the rumored deal of Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a first-round pick is realistic, we hope Flip Saunders, the Cavaliers and all the fans involved have enough patience to see it through.
|Boston - LP: R. De La Rosa||0||FINAL|
|Toronto - WP: M. Stroman||8|
|San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson||1||FINAL|
|Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels||2|
|Texas - LP: C. Lewis||2||FINAL|
|NY Yankees - WP: B. McCarthy||4|
|Houston - LP: S. Feldman||1||FINAL|
|Oakland - WP: J. Samardzija||13|
|Miami - WP: H. Alvarez||3||FINAL|
|Atlanta - LP: C. Kimbrel||2|
|San Diego - WP: T. Ross||13||FINAL|
|Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson||3|
|NY Mets - LP: D. Gee||1||FINAL|
|Milwaukee - WP: M. Garza||9|
|Chicago WSox - WP: H. Noesi||5||FINAL|
|Minnesota - LP: P. Hughes||2|
|Cleveland - LP: M. Rzepczynski||1||FINAL|
|Kansas City - WP: A. Crow||2|
|Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer||6||FINAL|
|LA Angels - LP: G. Richards||4|
|Baltimore - WP: W. Chen||4||FINAL|
|Seattle - LP: H. Iwakuma||0|
|Real Salt Lake||3|
|Ottawa||7/26/14 6:00 PM|
|Toronto||7/26/14 9:00 PM|
|Winnipeg||7/31/14 6:00 PM|
|Toronto||8/1/14 6:00 PM|
|Brt Columbia||8/1/14 9:00 PM|
|Saskatchewan||8/2/14 6:00 PM|