Tag Archives: Kirby Puckett

Minnesota Blah – Tribulations and Tears

While watching the Twins invariably blow their 3-0 first inning lead to the Yankees last night, it got me thinking of how horrible it is to be a Minnesota sports fan. As I’m sure you know, the majority of sports fandom is based on where you’re from. A person who grew up in St. Louis, will obviously be more drawn to the local teams. Unfortunately, I was born in Minnesota and spent my formative years in the 90’s. I will argue that no fan base has had their heart ripped out more over the last 25 years than Minnesota. I was so distraught yesterday, I started compiling a list in my head…. which led to this post. Below is a blow-by-blow account of everything Minnesota has done to be horrible since I’ve been old enough to keep track….

1989 – Vikings trade half their franchise for Herschel Walker – This trade was so bad that it has its own wikipedia page… So bad that it has its own 30 for 30 titled ‘The Great Trade Robbery’… The Vikings got a 27 year old up running back and the Cowboys ended up with 3 Super Bowl titles. The Vikings gave up 5 players and 8 draft picks (Emmitt Smith, Darren Woodson, etc.)…. seriously…. Fun fact… Herschel never ran for 1000 years in a season for Minnesota and averaged 4.2 yards per carry. This is my first Vikings memory and they only go downhill from here…

1993 – Minnesota North Stars move to Dallas – The US Hockey Hall of Fame is literally in Minnesota… almost half of the 1980 miracle on ice team was from Minnesota…. They were two years removed from the Stanley Cup Finals…. Ugh, I’m still pissed.

1996 – Twins – Kirby Puckett goes blind – Kirby woke up one day in March and found he couldn’t see. After some tests it was determined he had a glaucoma. After multiple surgeries, his vision didn’t return and he was forced to retire. The sad part is that this might have been able to be prevented with regular eye exams. The Twins haven’t been the same since he left. After he retired, he had sever domestic issues that called into question his character. I will say this… I miss Kirby the ball player. Such a giant part of my childhood, over in a day by something that may have been preventable.

1998 – Vikings lose NFC Championship Game in Crushing Fashion… The Vikings rolled all year to a 15-1 record. Their kicker had not missed a kick all year (perfect on field goals and extra points)…. of course… all the Vikings have to do to go to the Super Bowl is to make a 39 yard field goal… What happens… he misses it. Of course. However, the Vikings got the ball back with 49 seconds left… instead of playing to win… the Vikings take a knee on 3rd and 7… and then promptly lose in overtime. I could write a million words on this… No Vikings loss has hurt more and was my first exposure to what it means to be a Vikings fan. It hurt too much to look up the actual video so this will have to do…

2000 – Glen Taylor gets caught making a secret contract with Joe Smith (JOE FRICKING SMITH) – The Timberwolves were fined a record $3.5 million and were stripped of their next 5 first round draft picks… this wasted the prime of Kevin Garnett. The Wolves are just now starting to recover.

2001 – Vikings lose 41-0 to Giants in NFC Championship Game – After starting the season 11-2, Super Bowl fever was in full effect. The Vikings then promptly lost the final 3 games and lost home field advantage for the entire playoffs to the New York Giants who finished 12-4. After taking care of New Orleans in their first playoff game, hopes were high that the Vikes had righted the ship and even came into the game favored on the road… Unfortunately, they promptly suffered their first ever playoff shutout loss and worst playoff loss in franchise history. I quit watching at halftime when it was 34-0. For context, at halftime… the 34 points by the Giants were their season high.

2002 – MLB tries to contract the Twins – The Twins were so ineptly run by owner Carl Pohlad (who started his fortune by foreclosing on people during the depression) that MLB thought they were better off by shutting down the franchise.

2003 – Vikings miss the playoffs on final play versus Arizona – The 2003 Vikings started 6-0 and were the clear Super Bowl favorites… However, the season started going pear shaped as they kept losing to bad teams (fun fact, they lost to every team that finished 4-12 that year). Coming into the final game, all the Vikings had to do was to beat the 3-13 Arizona Cardinals and they were playoff bound… Well, of course… Arizona wins on the last play of the game. The receiver clearly didn’t get two feet in-bounds on the catch, but was ruled that he was pushed mid-air by the defense so a touchdown was awarded… this was such garbage that the NFL has since changed the rule… Only the Vikings could lose this way.

2003 – Present – Twins lose to Yankees in the playoffs – Here is a quick history of this series in the playoffs…

  • 2003 Twins lose to Yankees 3 games to 1
  • 2004 Twins lose to Yankees 3 games to 1
  • 2009 Twins lose to Yankees 3 games to 0
  • 2010 Twins lose to Yankees 3 games to 0
  • 2017 Twins lose to Yankees 1 game to 0

All told, that adds up to the Twins going 2 – 13 versus the Yankees. Ugly. Then to make it worse, the great Joe Posnanski has these fun facts…

“The Yankees’ record against the Twins since 2002 — and this includes four soul-crushing postseason series for Minnesota — is now 89-33.

Repeating: New York is now 89-33 against Minnesota since 2002. That’s a .730 winning percentage — basically three wins out of four. That would calculate to 118 wins in a 162-game season.”

2009 Brett Favre Interception in NFC Championship Game – Again, the Vikings started out hot on their way to a 10-1 record. The started to slow at the end of the year going 2-3 over their last 5 games, but still good enough to win their division and get a first round bye. They crushed the Cowboys in the division round 34-3 which activated Vikings fever. They then traveled to New Orleans for the Championship game. The Vikes played horrible with 5 turnovers… but somehow, the game was tied 28-28 when the Vikings received a Saints punt at the 21 yard line with 2:49 left. The Vikings made it within field goal range with 19 seconds left…. in true Minnesota fashion, they quickly got a 12 men on the field penalty which moved the ball back to the 38. The sensible thing to do would be to run a quick throw or run to the middle of the field to set up the winning field goal…. Instead…. the Vikings called some crazy roll-out pass play which led to what is referred to ‘The Brett Favre Interception’… Watch for yourself…. This is inexplicable.

2014 – Adrian Peterson Beats his Child – Minnesota had their next hero in Adrian Peterson filling the void when Kevin Garnett was traded away. He was so revered in Minnesota that they called him ‘Purple Jesus’. I think he may have gotten confused with real-Jesus and the ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ mantra and instead used the rod on his 4 year-old to the extent that he was charged with ‘reckless or negligent injury to a child’. The NFL suspended him for 6 games and we all came to the realization that we were worshiping a false idol.

2015 – Missed 27 yard kick in playoffs vs. Seattle – The Vikings played a hard-fought game with Seattle. Final drive, Vikes find themselves down 10-9… They rally to the 9 yard line with 26 seconds left… A chip-shot field goal…. This is the Vikings so I think everyone knew what was going to happen next… Blair Walsh misses left. Of course he does. Watch here

2016 – Teddy Bridgewater almost loses a leg – Since this is the Vikings… I came into the 2016 season with decent expectations… Unfortunately, in one of the most freak accidents ever to take place on a football field… Teddy Bridgewater, their franchise quarterback, suffered a non-contact injury where he tore his ACL and suffered structural damage, including a dislocation of the knee joint to the point where there was talk of amputating the leg…. seriously. Thankfully, that wasn’t necessary but as of October 2017, he hasn’t played since.

Others that didn’t make the list….

  • Joe Mauer concussions
  • Prince dying

What did I miss? Leave a comment below.

Minnesota Memories – Twins Edition

Recently, my parents dropped a large box of old stuff they had been saving. This ranged from congratulations cards from when I was born, to athletic accomplishments to nearly every report card I’ve ever gotten (I’ve sorted the report cards, but I’m a little scared to go through them in detail). Two of my favorite items are ticket stubs from some of my favorite Twins games that I’ve had the privilege to attend.

Game 6, 1987 World Series

The 1987 World Series was the first time the Twins had made the playoffs in my lifetime. To say it was a big deal would an injustice to understatements. The entire state was all-in. Led by a 27 year-old Kirby Puckett, this was one of the most likable teams I’ve ever cheered for (another is the 2005 OSU football team). I remember watching Gary Gaetti hit two HR’s in his first two at bats in the Division Series. I remember going to what seemed like a lot of games that year and always being amazed at Tim Laudner’s throws to second. I’m convinced you could put a can of pepsi on the first bag side of second and Laudner would have knocked it over 100% of the time. That’s the beauty of memories.

Other memories are watching Kent Hrbek hit a double during the year and my dad joking that they should put him in a wheelbarrow to run because it couldn’t be any slower. As a 8 year old, that was the funniest thing I’d ever heard out of my old man’s mouth. I also remember how Greg Gagne would crouch down like a frog before every pitch as his way to prepare for the ball. I remember mimicking this in the yard with my brother. I remember Juan Berenguer and how hard he threw. I still love playing RBI baseball from the original Nintendo and putting him in just to watch him throw 100 mph.

Anyway, I found the ticket stub. I still can’t get over how amazing my parents were that they could score World Series tickets… and then to bring their 8 year old who was crazy about baseball. Just incredible.

What I remember about the game was that I was sitting next to some St. Louis Cardinals fans, which annoyed me and I remember the game being in doubt until Don Baylor hit a HR and then Kent Hrbek hit a grand slam (note: no wheelbarrow required when you park it). I remember how amazing it was to have 55,000+ people waiving their Homer Hanky. Could you imagine a World Series ticket for $30 today. Crazy.

                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Cardinals       1  1  0   2  1  0   0  0  0    5 11  2
Twins           2  0  0   0  4  4   0  1  X   11 15  0

Saturday, October 24, 1987 1:00
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
Attendance: 55,293, Time of Game: 3:04

Random Game in Baltimore, 1988

Every year my mom went to Washington D.C. for some meeting or convention. I remember a few years prior to 1988 my brother got to go with her. 1988 was my turn. I’m sure she took me to some of the sights and monuments, but the only thing I remember about that trip was a trip to Baltimore to watch the Orioles, who were ironically playing the Twins. Now my mom is an absolute saint. She is absolutely brilliant in everything she does with the notable exceptions of sports and technology. For instance, last Christmas we bought her a Garmin GPS unit because she was always having to print directions and whatnot. A full year later, the Garmin is still unused in the packaging. My brother got her a smart phone and somehow she set the language to Italian so she can’t text. I wish I was making this up.

Regardless, her other shortcoming is with sports. She has always been amazing and attended countless baseball and hockey games. Most of the time, she would bring a book and then pay attention when I was up to bat, but it was always awesome having her there. So this takes us to Baltimore. I remember getting to the stadium and my mom was going to buy tickets, but she had no idea what tickets were good so she walked up to one of the ushers outside the stadium and said “What would be good tickets to buy for today’s game?” And I remember this next part clear as day, he looked at my mom and I, reached in his shirt pocket, pulled out two tickets and said “These tickets are excellent” and gave them to my mom. Sometimes People are amazing. I know I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Baltimore because of that one individual.

The tickets were right behind home. I remember Kent Hrbek (he’s everywhere in this blog post) hitting what I thought were two hr’s (after looking up the box score, it was only one). We left before the game was decided, but I still remember it like it was yesterday.

Ironically, Les Straker was the starting pitcher at both games.

                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9  10 11    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -    -  -  -
Twins           0  0  0   1  0  0   0  0  2   0  0    3 11  1
Orioles         0  0  0   1  0  1   0  0  1   0  1    4  6  0

Wednesday, May 4, 1988, 7:35
Memorial Stadium
Attendance: 12,325, Time of Game: 3:28

Feel free to share any feedback or your memories in the comments.

Why Booing Mauer is Fruitless

 I have always been a huge Twins fan. When I moved away from Minnesota in the 5th grade, the Twins were my way of maintaining my connection to home. My earliest memories are getting the chocolate ice cream at the Metrodome that was served with a wooden spoon. It was a privilege to watch Kirby Puckett, one of the greatest players of the generation, roam center field. I couldn’t imagine going to a game to boo the best player on the field, which is exactly what is happening in Minnesota with Joe Mauer. 

Let’s Talk About That Contract

Mauer isn’t the first Twin to have a major contract. Going into the 1990 season, Kirby Puckett signed the richest baseball contract ever (3 years, $9 million, $2,816,667 in 1990). The total Twins payroll that year was $14,602,000. This means Kirby accounted for 19.29% of the Twins payroll. Obviously, this is a lot to dedicate to one player, but when you have a player with the talent and charisma like Kirby, it’s worth the risk. I lived in Minnesota at the time and I never heard a fraction of the outrage at Kirby that Mauer gets. 

Now let’s compare Mauer. In the first year of Joe Mauer’s contract (2011), his salary was $23,000,000 on a team with a total payroll of $113,237,000. This represents 20.31% of the teams total salary. Given historical context, the Mauer contract is statistically no different than the Puckett contract (19.29% vs. 20.31%). Booing Mauer because of this is a fan’s right, but given the history of the Twins and superstars, it seems extremely misguided. 

Mauer is on pace to be one of the greatest catchers ever. 

People like to complain about Mauer’s HR totals, but that’s only a small part of the equation. Did you know that according to mlb.com, if Mauer retired today, he would have the highest batting average of all time for a catcher and second all-time for on-base percentage? That’s amazing. Furthermore, Mauer is only the third catcher ever to win a batting title and the only catcher in the American League to accomplish that. On top of the hitting, he is also a 3-time gold glove winner at the most demanding position on the field. 

It’s not out of the realm of possibilities for Mauer to retire as the greatest catcher of all-time. Imagine if the Reds fans boo’d Johnny Bench or the Yankees boo’d Yogi Berra. It would be an embarrassment. I understand the frustration with Mauer being injured the last few years, however, Mauer has played in 29 out of 30 games this year so that shouldn’t be a factor. It’s time fans start appreciating the outstanding aspects of his game. 

He’s From Minnesota. He’s one of our Own. 

I currently live in Columbus, OH, home to The Ohio State University. Each time a native Ohioian suits up for the Buckeyes, there is an added amount of pride for that player knowing that he could have gone anywhere, but he choose to play for his home state. The same is true for Mauer. Mauer could have easily taken the money and played for Boston or New York. Instead, he chose to stay close to family and play for his hometown team.

Let’s look at this from a purely financial aspect, think of the added tax money Mauer is contributing to the state. At the current rate (7.85% for a high earning single filer), Mauer contributes around $1.8 million dollars a year directly to Minnesota. I don’t know about you, but I know that I didn’t contribute that much last year.

Additionally, Mauer is the present and future of the Twins. The Twins (for better or worse) have gone all-in on Mauer. His contract runs until 2018. If the Twins are going to succeed, Mauer will be a big part of the reason why. Booing a player this will be on your favorite team for the next 6-7 years doesn’t seem like the greatest idea.

If You’re Adamant to Boo, Here are Some Better Options

Scott Ullger – I’m still bitter from an Indians game I was at a few years back when he held the go-ahead run on third when he could have scored easily (http://www.baseball-reference.com/bo…00809160.shtml)

Justin Morneau – Aside from the concussion, here are some of the injuries since 2009: Stress Fracture in his Back, Sore Wrist, Pinched Nerve, Bruised Foot, Left Shoulder and whatever he’s currently on the DL for. 

The Twins Medical Staff – See Morneau, Justin for a small example of their work. 

Alexi Casilla – I’ll give you three sets of stats, you pick which player you would rather have….. 

Player 1 – .252/.308/.643
Player 2 – .248/.325/.650
Player 3 – .257/.303/.681

Player 1 is Alexi, Player 2 is Nick Punto and Player 3 is Luis Rivas…. so when you compare those numbers, Alexi Casilla is inferior to Luis Rivas… if anyone deserves booing….

I understand there is a lot of frustration with the Twins this year, and rightfully so, but my hope is that the great people of Minnesota come to realize what an amazing player they have on their team and start to fully appreciate all the things that he brings to the table, instead of focusing on the few things that he doesn’t.

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1990 – Kirby Puckett and Twins Salary Information – http://www.nytimes.com/1991/10/14/sp…-rich-man.html
Historical Twins Salary Information – http://twinstrivia.com/salaries-2/
The Ohio State University is one of two universities to have ‘The’ as part of the official title. The other is ‘The Citadel’
Minnesota Tax Rate – http://www.bankrate.com/finance/taxe…minnesota.aspx

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