Minnesota Update: Lynx, Loons go down in flames

I’ve said all season that the Lynx are a three-person team; in the playoffs, that’s become a two-person team, with Napheesa Collier and Kayla McBride carrying them. Two could be enough, as Minnesota proved in their game 2 win, but in order to win Game 3, they’d need both to show up in a big way.

They only got one.


Minnesota's PWHL team is out-and-out Minnesotan

There are lots of details yet to be filled in about the fledgling PWHL, the first women’s hockey league in years that will have all of the top players in the sport.

Minnesota’s team doesn’t have a name yet. They haven’t announced where they’ll play. You can’t buy tickets or a jersey. They don’t even start playing until January. But one thing is very clear already: this Minnesota team is going to be very, very Minnesotan.


Minnesota Update: Twins get the Wild injury bug

Every year, when the Wild make the playoffs, suddenly there seems to be a random injury generator that kicks into overdrive at Xcel Energy Center. Last year, it was Kirill Kaprizov and Joel Erikkson Ek and Ryan Hartman that all got random injuries. Usually, after the Wild’s annual first-round exit, we find out that six or seven players were playing with broken bones, or ruptured tendons, or legs that had been torn from the body and hastily reattached with bailing wire.

I don’t know what causes this in St. Paul, but whatever it is, it’s found its way to Minneapolis.

A day after Carlos Correa reaggravated the plantar fascitis that’s plagued him all year, Royce Lewis managed to hurt himself while running yet again, pulling his hamstring.

This being Royce Lewis, he played two more innings, and only left the game when he made things worse while trying to swing the bat. If the guy worked construction, he’d be the guy who accidentally nailed his hand to the side of a wall with a nail gun, and then also broke his own fingers trying to pry out the nails with a claw hammer.


The Great Baseball / Football Road Trip, North Carolina edition

Last weekend was the latest edition of what’s usually known as the Great Baseball Road Trip, an annual long weekend that’s organized by my friend Mike. Most years, this means that the trip contains as much baseball as we can pack into the trip; there was one year that we managed to see six games, in five parks, in three states, in four days.

Like I said, it’s an annual event, but there hadn’t been a trip since 2019. In 2020 it wasn’t possible; in 2021 it still felt dicey; in 2022, it just didn’t happen. And honestly, it seemed like it might not happen this year either, and probably wouldn’t have, except road trip co-founder Rocket lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


Minnesota Update: Dumb-guy team

For me, the defining moment of the Vikings’ 34-28 loss to the Eagles on Thursday night came after Justin Jefferson’s fumble, near the end of the first half. Jefferson, trying to score on a long pass, attempted to reach the ball for the end-zone pylon while being tackled; instead, the ball flew from his grasp, over the pylon, and out of bounds. On review, the referees awarded Philadelphia a touchback.

Jefferson, looking abashed, patted himself on the chest, as if to say, “My bad. My bad, guys.” No kidding! Who were you worried we were going to blame for this? You don’t need to take responsibility for something that literally everyone knows was your fault!

Anyway, Jefferson wasn’t exactly alone, in needing to take responsibility; he was one of four Vikings to fumble the football. Brandon Powell had the second-dumbest one, returning a punt 20 yards deep into Eagles territory, but then fumbling the ball right back to Philly. Kirk Cousins fumbled again, his third fumble in two weeks; he needs just 20 more in the final 15 weeks of the year to tie Daunte Culpepper’s team (and NFL) record. And Alexander Mattison fumbled too, on the team’s first play after Powell’s fumble.

At that point of the game, the Vikings had run five plays, gained one yard, and handed the ball to the opposition three times - once on a punt and twice by fumbling.


Minnesota Update: Hot garbage in Connecticut

The Minnesota Lynx may not have been able to play any defense in Game 1 of the playoffs, but at least they also turned the ball over a lot, too.

In what you’d have to say is one of the worst playoff performances we’ve ever seen in Minnesota basketball, the Lynx went down to Connecticut 90-60 on Wednesday night. Minnesota led briefly early in the second quarter, at 24-22, and from there were simply awful. The Sun ripped off a 21-3 run, led 46-32 at halftime, and pulled away from there.


Minnesota Update: The little things

Even though the Twins won on Tuesday, 3-2 over Tampa Bay, there was a moment in the fourth inning that was a great example of how a little thing can become a big thing.

Joe Ryan pitched for Minnesota, and with a 1-0 lead, he had one out and a runner on second. Josh Lowe hit a liner that was just to shortstop Carlos Correa’s right; Correa had to lean, but not move his feet or dive, to get to it, but the ball hit his glove and deflected into left field, allowing the run to score.

The runner had taken off with the liner, so if Correa had gloved it, Ryan would have been out of the inning. Instead, he had to throw 17 more pitches to retire the side.

Ryan allowed a homer in the fifth, and left trailing 2-1 (and without finishing five innings, needing 102 pitches to get through four and two-thirds). We can’t exactly draw a line between Correa’s error (note: it was scored as a hit), and Ryan’s fifth inning, but it didn’t help, and it certainly was a big contributor to Ryan not being able to pitch all the way through five innings.

That one little thing could have cost the Twins the game, especially given their bullpen struggles. But while I was ruminating on how a little thing could become a big thing, every other thing went just fine for Minnesota. Louie Varland finished off the fifth, plus the sixth and seventh for good measure, and in the bottom of the seventh, Willi Castro golfed a two-run homer over the wall in deep right-center to win it for the Twins.


2023 WNBA Playoffs Preview: What is the Minnesota Lynx's deal?

The WNBA playoffs begin tonight, and your Minnesota Lynx are in the very first game of all, taking on the Connecticut Sun at 7pm on ESPN2.

The WNBA played 40 games this year, their longest schedule ever, but I suppose it’s possible that you missed a few Lynx games here and there. Or perhaps you missed all of them, because you don’t get Bally Sports, and because nobody knows which channel “Ion” is supposed to be.

So here, as a service to you the potential playoff viewer, are some answers. What is the Lynx’s deal, anyway?


Minnesota Update: Plans for early October, and money for JJ

On August 11, the Twins lost 13-2 to the Phillies. Since then, they’d won the first game of every three-or-more-game series that they’ve had, and I could tell that I’d gotten sucked into this particular rhythm. When I turned on Twins’ series opener against Tampa on Monday night, I was thinking, “I wonder how much they’re up by?”

They weren’t, of course. Sonny Gray left after four innings, Dylan Floro pitched himself down the bullpen totem pole, and the Twins were down 5-1 after five innings. The final was 7-4, after another Royce Lewis homer with multiple men on base.

This is when I tell you that the Guardians lost too, meaning that the Twins are one step closer to officially winning the AL Central. (As a matter of fact, Cleveland is now tied with Detroit in the loss column… it’s not impossible that the Tigers could end up as the second-place team in this division.)


Minnesota Update: Dumb-guy stuff

The Minnesota Vikings’ magical run of close wins last season helped me forget about the essential, ongoing truth of Vikings football: when in doubt, the Vikings will do dumb-guy stuff.

Kirk Cousins throwing an interception at the goal line and fumbling the football twice definitely qualifies, but the most dumb-guy thing of all belongs to third-string safety Jay Ward. After Minnesota had finally stopped Tampa’s second-half-opening drive, forcing a field goal after the Bucs had run 14 plays, Ward somehow lined up offside on the field-goal attempt - gifting the visitors first-and-goal, which they turned into seven points.

Lining up offside on a field-goal attempt is pure, uncut dumb-guy stuff.