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.)
Max Kepler also homered for the Twins and had two hits. I noticed this morning that Kepler has climbed above Ryan Jeffers and Willi Castro to be the most valuable Twins position player this year, by Baseball-Reference WAR. I cannot say what an upset this is, given that I - and most of Twins fandom - would happily have carried him bodily to the city limits, earlier this season, if it would have prevented management from keeping him on the roster. Good for you, Maximillian!
Anyway, the Twins’ first playoff games will be October 3, 4, and (if necessary) 5. Seems like pretty much everyone’s got those down on the calendar, at this point.
The thing about the Vikings is that nothing is ever really hidden, with a team that’s this popular and so extensively covered. Sure, the Vikings lost on Sunday, but that unearthly sense of unease that you feel from the fanbase is not that the team can’t run the ball, or that their already-beleaguered offensive line already has injuries at center and left tackle… it’s that Justin Jefferson, who we all assumed would have a long-term contract by now, failed to sign one before Sunday’s game.
This is the NFL, so of course there are plenty of management-friendly options still available. Jefferson is making $2.4 million this year, which is of course paltry and ridiculous, and $19.7 million next year, which is honestly still low. And after that, if the Vikings want, they can put the “franchise” tag on him for a couple of seasons. So if Minnesota wants, I guess they can keep him here for four more years, mostly against his will… though I imagine that in this scenario, Jefferson - who does seem to understand his value - would show up and catch a three-year version of the ear infection that TJ Hockenson supposedly had during training camp.
Maybe it’s just me, but NFL contracts and salary caps are so impossible to understand in plain language (what do you mean that “fully guaranteed” doesn’t mean the same thing as “guaranteed”?) that being on the team’s side in these contract negotiations is virtually impossible. In a sport like hockey, the cap is right there, and fans would be in full GM Brain Mode right now, trying to decide whether Jefferson “deserves” a certain contract.
In football, words don’t mean anything, so just pay Jefferson whatever he wants. I’m sure there’s four or five cap loopholes out there that can make this work.
TWINS vs Tampa Bay, 6:40pm
SAINTS at Iowa, 6:38pm
LYNX at Connecticut, Game 1, 7pm Wednesday
VIKINGS at Philadelphia, Thursday
GOPHER VOLLEYBALL vs High Point, Thursday
LOONS vs Sporting KC, Saturday
GOPHER FOOTBALL at North Carolina, Saturday