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It’s not hard to listen to comments from Terry Ryan and Dave St. Peter in two different venues — a recent conference call with season ticket holders, and again in interviews with the Star Tribune’s Phil Miller — and reach this conclusion: 2015 will be more of the same from the Twins, by design.
Or, in perhaps more flattering terms: the Twins are going to hope that 2015 is the kind of year they had hoped 2014 would be, and they are a year behind schedule in their rebuild because of injuries to key minor league players and the underperformance of players on the major league club.
How else would one react to quotes from Ryan such as these?
“I don’t want to punt on 2015, but it’s still going to be a struggle.”
“Sometimes you make decisions that ultimately are going to benefit you down the line that don’t look exactly like what you want right now.”
The Twins have decided they aren’t going to budge much on payroll from 2014 to 2015, meaning it again will be around $85 million and that almost all of it is already tied up in existing players. We don’t necessarily think this is a bad idea, but let’s be clear: this is a choice, and an artificial spending cap. If the Twins wanted to spend more, they certainly could (remember, 2014 was the start of a major bump in national TV revenue for all MLB clubs).
Ryan is right when he says spending foolishly could set the club back even further (at least if they guessed wrong on big-ticket, long-term deals). He is also right when he notes that teams can be competitive with payrolls comparable to what the Twins project to have next season.
But what it adds up to is a season of hoping, not realistically expecting, that things will not devolve into a fifth consecutive 90-loss season. There were good signs last season, particularly with young hitters and Phil Hughes, but without the influx of more established players via free agency, Minnesota will be banking on two guys who will make up between 40-45 percent of the payroll combined (Joe Mauer and Ricky Nolasco) to live up to their contracts and for other young players to make meaningful contributions (while the ones who made strides this year avoid a step back, which is easier said than done).
Before Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and others essentially lost the 2014 season, we imagine the Twins’ blueprint was something like this: ride improved pitching and young hitting to a .500 record in 2014, get onto the fringe of contention in 2015 and then really make a run in 2016 and beyond. Now we have to imagine .500 is the goal next year, and we can clearly see the Twins don’t intend to try to spend their way to a few more victories.
It’s not right or wrong, but it is the choice they have made.
Goldberg butchered plenty of plays, at one point confusing Golden Tate and Greg Jennings (who are both wide receivers and who both wear No. 15, but do not happen to play for the same team).
Fans took him to task on Twitter — many of them not as politely as the ones we highlighted above. Instead of turning the other cheek, Goldberg unloaded on them in a series of (since-deleted) tweets that included high volumes of profanity, as noted by Pro Football Talk.
The real fun, though? Goldberg is slated to again be the lead guy when the Vikings play the Bills on Sunday. We look forward to many TD passes from Kyle Orton to Cordarrelle Patterson.
Last year, so much of the focus was on Jerry Kill’s health … until the team ripped off a four-game Big Ten winning streak for the first time in 40 years, answering many questions about the coaching staff’s ability to work through any road blocks in its path.
This year, after the Gophers looked overmatched against TCU and completed just one pass against San Jose State, the talk shifted to an offense that looked either one-dimensional or just plain bad depending on your preference.
But consecutive victories over Michigan and Northwestern have re-established this team’s identity: very good on defense, sound in the running game and — this is key — able to throw enough to win. Mix in some solid special teams and the ability to hold a lead after halftime, and the Gophers have the makings of a team that can compete in any conference game this season.
That, of course, raises an interesting question: Are they good enough to not just join the discussion, win 4 or 5 conference games and go to a decent bowl game … but instead legitimately compete for a Big Ten title?
The schedule certainly breaks that way and allows one to dream a little. Without putting wins in the bank, you look at the next two (home against Purdue and at Illinois) and think it is very possible the Gophers will be 4-0 heading into a huge home game against Iowa (which also could be 4-0 in conference play at the time).
Winning the Big Ten West will almost certainly necessitate winning that Iowa game, too, since the closing stretch — home against Ohio State, then at Nebraska and at Wisconsin — are three major tests. But even if the Gophers went 1-2 with that closing group, they could at least find themselves in a tie for the West title. Win 2 of 3, and they would very likely win it.
That’s a long way to go, and it assumes a lot of wins that will require a lot of effort. But it’s not crazy to think about — nor is, perhaps, sweeping the three big trophy games (Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin).
Can’t have anything nice.
Is that really true, or does it just seem that way when it comes to Minnesota sports?
On Saturday, the Gophers fought their way to a 2-0 start in the Big Ten for the first time in a decade, and they now have a legitimate chance to start conference play 4-0. They did it with clutch plays in the fourth quarter, keeping their record perfect under Jerry Kill when they lead at halftime. There are real reasons to think these Gophers can play with anyone in the Big Ten — that at least this defense, with this secondary and linebackers, can compete and keep games close.
Later on in the evening, the Wild finished off the second of two dominating wins over Colorado. The combined score was 8-0, and we have still yet to see a Wild line or defensive pairing on the ice that we don’t trust or that doesn’t bring something to the mix. It’s very early, but it’s possible this team — by virtue of adding a couple new pieces and improvement from within — could be even better than we thought.
So it was on to Sunday, and a great opportunity for the Vikings. Not only could they keep the positive Minnesota sports momentum going, but also it was possible they could climb right back into the divisional picture with a victory over Detroit and a Green Bay loss.
Instead, it was the nightmare you saw. The defense competed. For the most part, a few big plays aside this season, that group has not been the problem. But the offense? Well, let’s see: 1) They play calling, again, was tepid and uninspired. 2) The offensive line play, again, was atrocious. 3) Teddy Bridgewater, so promising in his first start against Atlanta, was indecisive and inaccurate (even when he wasn’t running for his life). 4) The wide receivers looked disengaged and ineffective. We could go on.
The point being, instead of showing they had a chance to be competitive in 2014, the Vikings showed just how far they have to go. And to make matters worse for Vikings fans, they finished just in time for FOX to switch games so we could watch Aaron Rodgers rally the Packers to a last-second victory.
Can’t have anything nice? Not for very long, at least.
Here’s an interesting find from SI.com:
The Heisman Trust unveiled a redesigned website earlier this month at Heisman.com. The site features a few notable changes, including a revamped layout and a list of current Heisman candidates. However, the majority of visitors will probably miss the most notable change to the site. The Heisman Trust’s longtime Mission Statement begins with the following first line:
The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence.
Notice anything missing in that? For years, that first line ended with the phrase “with integrity.” At some point during the Heisman’s site redesign — or, at least, since last year’s Heisman ceremony — those two very important words were removed.
Perhaps this is an oversight on the website? Or perhaps, as SI notes, “integrity” has been removed from the award in light of the fact that three of the past four winners (Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston) have been embroiled in some sort of controversy.
|San Diego||10/23/14 7:25 PM|
|Detroit||10/26/14 8:30 AM|
|Buffalo||10/26/14 12:00 PM|
|St. Louis||10/26/14 12:00 PM|
|Houston||10/26/14 12:00 PM|
|Minnesota||10/26/14 12:00 PM|
|Seattle||10/26/14 12:00 PM|
|Baltimore||10/26/14 12:00 PM|
|Miami||10/26/14 12:00 PM|
|Chicago||10/26/14 12:00 PM|
|Philadelphia||10/26/14 3:05 PM|
|Oakland||10/26/14 3:25 PM|
|Indianapolis||10/26/14 3:25 PM|
|Green Bay||10/26/14 7:30 PM|
|Arkansas State||7:00 PM|
|Connecticut||10/23/14 6:00 PM|
|(18) East Carolina|
|Miami-Florida||10/23/14 7:00 PM|
|So Florida||10/24/14 6:00 PM|
|Troy||10/24/14 6:30 PM|
|BYU||10/24/14 8:00 PM|
|(6) Oregon||10/24/14 9:00 PM|
|North Texas||10/25/14 11:00 AM|
|UAB||10/25/14 11:00 AM|
|Rutgers||10/25/14 11:00 AM|
|Maryland||10/25/14 11:00 AM|
|Texas||10/25/14 11:00 AM|
|(11) Kansas State|
|Minnesota||10/25/14 11:00 AM|
|Memphis||10/25/14 11:00 AM|
|North Carolina||10/25/14 11:30 AM|
|San Jose St||10/25/14 12:00 PM|
|Northern Ill||10/25/14 12:00 PM|
|(25) UCLA||10/25/14 1:00 PM|
|Akron||10/25/14 1:00 PM|
|Massachusetts||10/25/14 1:00 PM|
|Ohio U||10/25/14 1:00 PM|
|Ga Southern||10/25/14 1:00 PM|
|Kent State||10/25/14 1:30 PM|
|Oregon State||10/25/14 2:30 PM|
|Fla Atlantic||10/25/14 2:30 PM|
|Louisiana Tech||10/25/14 2:30 PM|
|(1) Miss State||10/25/14 2:30 PM|
|Georgia Tech||10/25/14 2:30 PM|
|(22) West Virginia||10/25/14 2:30 PM|
|Texas Tech||10/25/14 2:30 PM|
|Michigan||10/25/14 2:30 PM|
|(8) Michigan State|
|Boston College||10/25/14 2:30 PM|
|Central Mich||10/25/14 2:30 PM|
|Vanderbilt||10/25/14 3:00 PM|
|Old Dominion||10/25/14 3:00 PM|
|UNLV||10/25/14 3:00 PM|
|Temple||10/25/14 4:00 PM|
|(15) Arizona||10/25/14 5:00 PM|
|Texas-El Paso||10/25/14 6:00 PM|
|Wyoming||10/25/14 6:00 PM|
|Syracuse||10/25/14 6:00 PM|
|Texas State||10/25/14 6:00 PM|
|(3) Ole Miss||10/25/14 6:15 PM|
|(4) Alabama||10/25/14 6:30 PM|
|So Carolina||10/25/14 6:30 PM|
|(13) Ohio State||10/25/14 7:00 PM|
|(20) USC||10/25/14 9:00 PM|
|(14) Arizona State||10/25/14 9:45 PM|
|Nevada||10/25/14 10:59 PM|
|Montreal||10/24/14 5:30 PM|
|Saskatchewan||10/24/14 8:30 PM|
|Hamilton||10/25/14 3:00 PM|
|Brt Columbia||10/25/14 6:00 PM|