At the recent TwinsFest, both Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa said that they feel physically fantastic. Since plantar fasciitis is easier to recover from than knee surgery, I’d give Correa better odds, but we all hope the best for them both.
Two members of Congress have proposed a law which would mandate that some of the taxes collected on sports gambling must be devoted to gambling addiction treatment. Naturally, the gambling companies would prefer to pay no taxes at all.
Carron J. Phillips (at what’s left of Deadspin) is frustrated by the ending of HBO’s Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel, and the near-total absence of serious sports journalism on TV. It wasn’t hard to see coming, once ESPN canceled Outside The Lines.
Several people wrote about the death of Sports Illustrated. Thoughtful author Dave Zirin did here, and Awful Announcing’s Jesse Pantuosco did here. The Pantuosco article notes that SI has moved to using basically unpaid writers like SB Nation does, calling them “typo-ridden listicle factories specializing in mindless clickbait.” Most SB writers I’m familiar with aren’t doing clickbait for little/no money, they’re writing what they want to because they like writing. *and typo-ridden my buth
Seth Myers (!) breaks down the weird financial maneuvers that helped torpedo SI:
A famous SI writer Pantuosco mentioned, Tom Verducci, shared his thoughts on the HOF inductees. He quotes the Star-Tribune’s Dan Barreiro, who believed the Twins were being cheap by not drafting Mark Prior: “The Twins passed on the best player in the amateur draft. They blinked, they surrendered, they choked, they conceded.” Just a reminder how bad most paid sports columnists are.
Patrick Reusse, who can be good when doing Minnesota sports history, wrote this appreciative piece remembering Mauer’s fairly humble roots; his family was pretty blue-collar. Reusse notes that some Star-Tribune commenters might consider Mauer “soft” or “overpaid.” Reusse fails to mention that some of his colleagues did the same.
One of the funnier Twins I remember, Matt LeCroy, once pilfered a Joe Mauer game jersey, and he tells Byung-Ho Park he's glad he did. LeCroy’s now managing the Red Wings in Rochester, FYI.
From the dusty digital archives, here's an older TwinkieTown FanPost by then-community member dwintheiser arguing against Mauer being in the HOF. As "Tommy John" Gorsegner put it, "I don’t agree with this fanpost, but it’s well researched, and I believe all opinions should be heard."
Marcos Bretón of The Sacramento Bee angrily describes how he got slammed on social media for his HOF ballot (he voted for Adrián Beltré and Carlos Beltrán). You can say “well, don’t be on social media, then,” but many newspapers require their writers to generate a certain number of social media posts per day.
In what could be considered clickbait, The Athletic did a piece about what other MLB players think of Shohei Ohtani. (Paywall, but not in “reader view” on your desktop.) Yet they led it off in an unusual way, by talking to our old friend, Trevor Hildenberger. Hildy remembered how, after a brief, mediocre appearance in a Twins loss, he was mobbed by Japanese baseball reporters.
“One of the coolest things about playing professional sports,” Hildenberger said, “if you’re not going to be making generational wealth or winning championships, you get to compete against the best in the world. The best of your time. The best ever.”
Soon after Ohtani signed for $700 million, he logged on to social media and posted about his claim to fame.
“Congrats to the best player on Earth. I’ll always remember our battles over the years (1 AB, 1 pitch, he homered).”
The post went viral.
“I’ll be rooting for him the rest of his career,” Hildenberger said. “I hope he hits 10,000 home runs and strikes out every player he faces. Just so when he goes into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, I can be like, ‘Yeah he took me deep.’”
In an article that’s definitely clickbait, ESPN mentioned the many ways Minnesota men’s sports fans are just so long-suffering. I feel your pain, folks, but you don’t have iconic GIFs of TWO TIMES your team got crushed by NBA legends.
Speaking of fans who have it worse, Athletics Nation’s JToster describes how the A’s will still be getting revenue sharing money from MLB. Why are other owners approving a (still not finalized) move that costs some of them money? Because it’s all about sending a message to cities like Oakland; give us billions more than just a stadium, or else. In the NBA, arrogant butthead owner Mark Cuban recently gave the game away, explaining that he sold the Dallas Mavericks to casino owners because “the advantage is what you can build” and “you grow your revenue base and you’re not dependent on things that you were in the past.”
Neil de Mause reminds us for the zillionth time that whenever someone claims a stadium subsidy “pays for itself” with tax revenue, that claim is a baldfaced lie. Primarily (but not solely) because entertainment spending on sports is entertainment spending that would have happened anyways, on restaurants, movies, concerts, and so on. We don’t generally need to provide billions in subsidies for these things, and we collect taxes on them just the same.
A’s fans, BTW, are trying to put together an Opening Day boycott with this neat graphic image:
Pinstripe Alley’s Sam Chapman looks at the history of Twins/Yankees trades, including some you may not remember. Chapman doesn’t like Josh Donaldson any more than most of you do, but he did like Aaron Hicks. (Who the Angels just signed for the league minimum, maybe the Twins shoulda considered it.)
On the dark side of sports, Bob Nightengale profiles former Sox star Omar Vizquel, once accused of crimes so heinous I will not mention them here. Should Vizquel have the opportunity to tell his side of things in a prominent platform like USA Today? That’s a good question, I don’t have an easy answer.
You’ll recall how, some years ago, it came out that teams signing international prospects were sometimes being fooled about their ages. That a 19-year-old might try to pass as 16, for instance. Well, this disturbing article says it’s now happening in reverse, particularly in the Dominican Republic. MLB teams aren’t supposed to sign or negotiate with players under 16. Some scouts in this article claim that teams are knowingly breaking this rule all the time, and MLB is turning a blind eye. That teams are making deals with kids as young as 12 or 13. It’s Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal who wrote this, and they’re very respected sports journalists.
(At least MiLB players are getting some slightly better pay now, since they became part of the MLBPA; here’s a fun T-shirt from before that happened).
Sarah Lazare at The American Prospect writes about how a real estate firm owned by the Pohlad family is subcontracting to companies that routinely break labor laws to underpay their workers. For example, classifying them as “independent contractors” when they aren’t (and thereby paying no portion of those workers’ Social Security/Medicare contributions).
I doubt this is something the Pohlads do intentionally; as far as sports owners go, they’re not too evil. It is the sort of thing where they might be hearing one side from workers’ rights groups, another side from the companies they’re doing business with, and choosing to believe the side that’s saving them money. It'd be worth their time to look into this more.
I recently watched a heartfelt (if rather repetitive) film, Dreamin’ Wild, written/directed by Bill Pohlad. It’s the story of real-life teen folk-rockers whose parents sunk thousands of dollars into their music careers, but the careers never took off. Decades later, their teen music would gain some critical notice (to my ear it’s bland stuff, but OK for teenagers just getting started).
What the movie’s clearly about is learning to be grateful for what your parents gave you, whether or not it all worked out the way everyone wanted. You don’t have to be Freud to guess why this subject would resonate with Bill Pohlad (who’s produced many films I respect, and one I deeply love).
Well, sir, the workers building buildings for your family’s real estate company are trying to give something to their children, as well. Try to keep that in mind.
To end on a happier note:
This isn’t technically a sport, but it is skilled physical activity. A guy who lives in a small town on the very northernmost part of Lake Superior has been doing insanely great snowshoe art like this:
The guy’s a retired principal, and while sometimes he makes these things with other snowshoe enthusiasts, sometimes he just does it on his own.
And, if you want to meet him, his little town’s only an eight-hour drive away!
Enjoy the fact that we haven’t had to shovel yet, and catch ya next time.