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Published: Wed, 20 Sep 2017 23:55:31 GMT2017-09-20T23:55:31Z


Yankees sweep Twins, take command of wild card race

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 23:55:31 GMT2017-09-20T23:55:31Z

Twins’ narrow lead for last playoff spot shrinks.

Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford: 'I've been through a lot with this knee'

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 21:10:37 GMT2017-09-20T21:10:37Z

Sam Bradford said his playing status depends on how his knee responds in Vikings practice this week.

Derek Falvey and Thad Levine's first year: the good, the bad and the lucky

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 20:02:27 GMT2017-09-20T20:02:27Z

When I read comments from Twins fans (don’t read the comments) on Star Tribune stories or Twitter, I sense something strange happening: The Twins are in the midst of a successful season by almost any measure, and they are doing it under new leadership. But there is still a decent segment of the Twins fan base that doesn’t think Twins President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey and General Manger Thad Levine are doing a good job — or at least that derisively think of the duo as boy genius know-it-all types. With the Twins in the midst of a playoff race — before first pitch Wednesday in Yankee Stadium, they were 1.5 games up on the Angels with 11 games remaining and FanGraphs gave the Twins a 63.6 percent chance of reaching the postseason as a Wild Card — this seemed like a good time to attempt an honest assessment of Year 1 of the Falvey/Levine era. To do this, I’ve divided things into three categories: things I think they got right, things I think they they got wrong and times when they probably just got lucky. The good *Stuck with the plan: Before the first pitch of the season was thrown, Falvey and Levine were on record saying they thought the Twins were much better than their 59-103 record indicated last year. That set the course for a season in which there weren’t a ton of huge changes, which enabled the Twins to “trust the process,” so to speak, and give young players chances to get the repetitions they needed to fail (and then get better). That meant a lot of at bats for Miguel Sano (at his natural position of third base), Jorge Polanco, Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler. It meant innings for Jose Berrios and Adalberto Mejia. That faith has largely been repaid in a win-win scenario: Those players have contributed mightily to the Twins’ success this season while also enhancing the mission of building toward more success in the future. *Subtle upgrades: Falvey and Levine seemed to prioritize two things in the offseason — upgrading at catcher (including defensively) and adding high-character veterans. Signing Jason Castro and Chris Gimenez enabled them to do both things. *Resisted the urge to trade the team’s best veterans: When a lot of us were calling for the Twins to trade Brian Dozier and/or Ervin Santana during the offseason (and again at the trade deadline), Falvey and Levine instead kept both guys. Without them, the Twins would have had no chance to compete this season. The bad *Didn’t invest enough in the bullpen: Bullpen arms aren’t as cheap as they used to be, and the Twins did have some bad luck with injuries. But when your biggest free agent bullpen move is bringing in Matt Belisle (who has been fine), and you’re coming off a year with shaky relief already, you set yourself up for some second-guessing. *Deadline miscalculation: Falvey and Levine showed good flexibility when shifting from being buyers to sellers at the trade deadline as the Twins seemingly faded. Those who believe in fire and grit might even say dealing away Jaime Garcia and Brandon Kintzler made the Twins play with a chip on their shoulders in August and September, propelling them into playoff position (I’d say it was a schedule that eased up dramatically, but that’s just me). They played the percentages in trading those two guys, and it cost them. It was a bad result more than a bad decision, but I’d sure like the Twins’ chances down the stretch and in the postseason a lot more if they had Kintzler (who has a 2.66 ERA in 21 appearances with Washington, by the way), in particular. *Hector Santiago: Some questioned the wisdom of giving $8 million to the left-handed starter when cheaper options might have yielded similar or better results. Those questions proved legitimate when Santiago slogged through an ineffective, injury-marred year. The lucky *Bartolo Colon: I had more confidence than most that the 44-year-old had a chance to help the rotation, but this was essentially a low-risk move that worked out better than Falvey or Levine reaso[...]

U.S. Bank Stadium repairs behind schedule with completion date unclear

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 20:51:21 GMT2017-09-20T20:51:21Z

The zinc panel repairs remain visible on the 13-month-old stadium.

No winners in lame autograph spat between ex-Twin Pat Neshek, Zack Greinke

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 19:41:15 GMT2017-09-20T19:41:15Z

Do you enjoy weird arguments between professional athletes in which neither person looks good? Not really, right? It’s kind of uncomfortable. And yet here we are with this story: *Former Twins pitcher Pat Neshek, who went to high school at suburban Park Center and has been an autograph collector for quite some time, apparently has been trying for a while to get some memorabilia signed by star pitcher Zack Greinke. *Both pitchers were All-Stars this season, and Neshek says he asked Greinke at that game if he would sign some stuff. Neshek said Greinke agreed to do it, but when their teams met later — Neshek is with the Rockies and Greinke is with the Diamondbacks, teams that could meet in the postseason by the way — Greinke said he wasn’t going to sign cards for Neshek. On an open forum for card collectors, Neshek wrote that after getting the no message he, 1) waited around for Greinke during batting practice to ask him why and that Greinke denied having the conversation with him at the ASG. 2) Confronted Greinke a couple minutes later and “told him what I thought of him.” On the forum, Neshek also called Greinke a “turd” as well as an unflattering term for a body part from which a turd might depart. Greinke at one point apparently told Neshek that he wouldn’t even sign if it was Neshek’s kid who asked for the autograph — a pretty lame comeback and a particularly awful choice of words, even if unintentionally so, given Neshek had a newborn son who died in 2012. Neshek wrote of Greinke, “being the socially awkward guy he is ran back to the dugout and went inside.” Greinke has had a well-chronicled battle with social anxiety disorder, so calling him a “socially awkward guy” is decidedly uncool. Basically: Nobody should have to sign anything for Neshek, but it’s a cool hobby. If Greinke said he would and then didn’t, I can see why it would irk a collector. But man … just stop there and take the loss instead of badgering the guy and publicizing this dumb argument — and leaving us with no sympathy for either pitcher in the process.

Zach Parise skates hard, testing injury; Alex Stalock to start in goal Thursday

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 22:58:10 GMT2017-09-20T22:58:10Z

Zach Parise had a high-speed skating and shooting session before today's Wild practice that lasted at least 30 minutes, and he appeared to be moving well.

Gophers' Isaiah Washington listed as one of Big Ten's top incoming freshmen

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 17:41:13 GMT2017-09-20T17:41:13Z

The 6-foot-1, 160-pound throwback New York City point guard has as much hype surrounding him as any newcomer in the Big Ten.

Are the Timberwolves the seventh-best team in the NBA?

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 20:24:32 GMT2017-09-20T20:24:32Z

The Timberwolves have media day on Friday, and I look forward to asking as many players as possible this question: “Do you play for the seventh-best team in the NBA?” We are, of course, still a month away from the start of the season. After media day, the Wolves will go to San Diego for training camp and bonding … and then China for some preseason games with the Warriors. If the NBA season was a weekend in Vegas, right now is the part where you’ve checked into your hotel, it’s Friday at 7 p.m., and you’re about to go have dinner and drinks before hitting the tables. Nothing bad has happened. The only things you can imagine happening are good things. All that said, the Wolves are looking fresh and ready as they check the mirror one last time. The latest heap of preseason praise to come their way: ESPN put out its Basketball Power Index preseason rankings this week, ordering teams 1-30 based on a formula that incorporates “game-by-game efficiency, strength of schedule, pace, days of rest, game location and preseason expectations.” It starts with the Warriors (duh). Then the rest of the usual suspects: Houston, San Antonio, Boston, Oklahoma City and Cleveland. And then, at number seven, is the franchise with the longest current playoff drought (13 years) in the NBA: the Timberwolves. One spot below LeBron and co. What a time to be alive.

Twins fire international scouting coordinator Howard Norsetter

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 20:01:42 GMT2017-09-20T20:01:42Z

Makeover of organization continues as Canadian/Australian scout let go.

Postgame: We're still in driver's seat for wild-card spot, Dozier points out

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 23:54:25 GMT2017-09-20T23:54:25Z

Despite dismal results this week, the Twins hope to return to Yankee Stadium in 13 days.