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Getting Trivial about the Twins

April 05, 2018 - (0) comments

 

The Twins open their 2018 home schedule today and Sports Headliners joins in the festivities offering the following trivia quiz about Minnesota’s Major League Baseball team. Whether at the game gulping hot coffee, or at home huddled near the TV and fireplace, try your luck at answering these 25 questions (with answers at the bottom). Let me know your score.

1. What year did Target Field open?

2. How many years have the Twins opened their regular season schedule at Target Field?

3. How many games is Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco suspended for until he can rejoin the team?

4. These three starting pitchers combined to hold the Orioles to five hits and no runs in Minnesota’s opening series of the year. Name the pitchers.

5. Who is the current Twin that was the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year in 2017?

6. Name the American League club that had three former Twins in its opening day lineup this season.

7. What is the coldest temperature ever for a Twins home opener?

8. Where did the Twins play and against what team when they opened the 1961 regular season schedule?

9. This former Twins skipper in the 1970s also once managed the Minneapolis Millers. Name him.

10. Three times in the last 30 years a Twins skipper has been named American League Manager of the Year. Name the managers and the years they were honored.

11. In what years did the Twins win their two World Series titles?

12. In what Caribbean island will the Twins play a two-game series later this month?

13. Who is the oldest player on the Twins’ roster and what is his age?

14. This Minnesota native and former Twin now pitches for the Phillies. Who is he?

15. In the past Twins TV analyst Bert Blyleven has often talked about his birthday. When is his birthday?

16. The parents of this Twins regular were ballet dancers. Who is he?

17. If Joe Mauer decided to play college football coming out of high school, where was he headed?

18. Who is the Twins player Torii Hunter refers to as “Mighty Mouse”?

19. This former Twins pitcher will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York later this year. Who is he?

20. What year did the Twins draw over 3 million fans?

21. Who is the former Twins left-handed pitcher that said owner Calvin Griffith threw nickels around like “manhole covers?”

22. Brian Dozier led the Twins in home runs with 34 last year? Who was second on the team and how many did he hit?

23. This new Twin is known for his upper cut home run swing. Who is he?

24. Who was the public address announcer at the Metrdoome who drew hoots with his warning, “No smoking in the Metrodome.”

25. Who are the only Twins ever to collect 2,000 hits in their careers in Minnesota?

Trivia Quiz Answers Below

1. Target Field opened to acclaims in 2010 and has remained on short lists ranking the best baseball stadiums in America.

2. The only time the Twins have opened a season at Target Field was in 2013 (April Fool’s Day) when the Tigers won 4-2.

3. Jorge Polanco, who tested positive for a positive-enhancing substance, is suspended by MLB for the first 80 games of the 2018 season.

4. Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson and Jake Odorizzi combined to shutout the Orioles over 21 innings and held Baltimore batters to a 0.74 average.

5. Mitch Garver, who is now a backup catcher with the Twins, was named the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year in 2017 while hitting .291 with 17 home runs at Triple-A Rochester.

6. The Rays starters on opening day last week included Twins alums Carlos Gomez, Wilson Ramos and Denard Span.

7. The temperature was 33 degrees for the Twins home opener at Met Stadium against the Angels on April 14, 1962. (Hope you had a good trivia quiz to divert attention from the cold.)

8. After relocating from Washington D.C. and changing their name from the Senators to the Twins, Minnesota’s new major league baseball franchise played its first ever regular season game on April 11, 1961 in New York and defeated the Yankees 6-0.

9. Gene Mauch, known as “the little general,” managed the Twins from 1976-1980, and he also managed the minor league Minneapolis Millers during the 1958 and 1959 seasons.

10. Paul Molitor was the AL Manager of the Year Award in 2017. His Twins predecessors in winning the award in the last 30 years are Tom Kelly in 1991 and Ron Gardenhire in 2010.

11. Minnesota won the World Series in 1987 and 1991 with dramatic Game Seven victories in the Metrodome against the Cardinals and Braves.

12. The Twins will play the Indians in the Puerto Rico Series in San Juan April 17 and 18.

13. Relief pitcher Fernando Rodney, who turned 41 last month, is the Twins’ oldest player and has been in the big leagues since 2002.

14. Minnesota native Pat Neshek, who pitched for the Twins from 2006-2010, is with the Phillies—his seventh big league team.

15. Bert Blyleven will be 67 tomorrow (Friday). Happy Birthday, Bert. You are “circled.”

Max Kepler (photo courtesy of Minnesota Twins).

16 Apparently German-born Twins right fielder Max Kepler gets his athleticism from his parents who were ballet dancers.

17. As a high school quarterback Joe Mauer verbally committed to Florida State but decided to play pro baseball after leaving Cretin-Derham Hall.

18. Eduardo Escobar, 5-10 and 185 pounds, was referred to as “Mighty Mouse” last year when he hit a career high 21 home runs.

19. St. Paul native Jack Morris, beloved in Minnesota for pitching the Twins to their 1-0 Game Seven World Series win in 1991, will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this summer.

20. In 1989 the Twins became the first ever American League franchise to draw more than 3 million fans.

21. Tight-fisted Calvin Griffith prompted that quote from Jim Kaat on throwing nickels around like “manhole covers.”

22. Miguel Sano, despite playing in only 114 games, was second on the Twins in home runs last season with 28.

23. Logan Morrison, in his eighth year in the big leagues, grooved his swing last season with the Rays hitting a career high 38 home runs—15 more than his previous high.

24. The late Bob Casey gave the no smoking edict and was the Twins’ public address voice every season from 1961-2004.

25. Membership in the Twins’ 2,000 hit club belongs to Kirby Puckett with 2,304 and Rod Carew, 2,085.

 

Twins Likely to Avoid Final 4 Conflict

April 03, 2018 - (0) comments

 

A Tuesday notes column leading off with Twins news.

The Twins have requested they not be scheduled for home games at Target Field during the April 6-8, 2019 Final Four in Minneapolis. Club president Dave St. Peter said after consulting with Final Four organizers and considering potential issues with hotel rooms, traffic and other concerns the Twins have requested that Major League Baseball schedule the team on the road during that early period in April.

The club has yet to receive the 2019 MLB schedule but it sounds like their request will be honored. “It will be very likely that we will be on the road during the Final Four next year,” St. Peter told Sports Headliners yesterday.

Because of the request to avoid the early April dates, the Twins’ 2019 regular season opening could begin at home outdoors in March. St. Peter said MLB teams may open the schedule on March 28. Since the opening of Target Field on 2010, the Twins have been scheduled at home to start the season just once.

St. Peter also said suspended starting shortstop Jorge Polanco is at the Twins’ complex in Fort Myers where he is playing in what’s called “extended spring training games.” Polanco and others in the Twins system who have yet to be assigned to a specific team in the minor leagues play against similar competition from other organizations.

St. Peter said Polanco, who is suspended for using a performance-enhancing substance, will play for one or more Twins minor league teams starting 20 days out from the end of his 80 game suspension.

Tre & Tyus Jones, Al Nuness

Gophers 1968-1969 basketball captain Al Nuness arranged a trip in 2010 with cousins Tyus and Tre Jones to the Final Four in Indianapolis. At that time Tyus was in eighth grade and Tre was a grade schooler. Back then no one could have predicted the basketball success the Jones brothers have achieved eight years later.

Tre, a senior now at Apple Valley, was named the state’s Mr. Basketball last week and played in the prestigious McDonald’s All-American Game featuring the best prep players in the nation. Those are two honors Tyus earned in 2014. The Mr. Basketball Award dates back to the 1970s, and Tre and Tyus are the only brothers to win the award.

Tyus and Tre led Apple Valley to Class 4A state championships playing for the Eagles. Tyus was named the 2015 Final Four most outstanding player when Duke won the national championship and a few months later found himself on the roster of his hometown NBA Timberwolves. Next fall Tre joins a loaded with talent Duke team that could be consensus preseason favorites to win the 2019 Final Four in Minneapolis.

So it looks like Nuness, who took his young cousins to Indy eight years ago to inspire them, might be able to witness another headline moment in 2019. He saw in Indy how the two youngsters studied the Final Four players in 2010 and the trip certainly made an impression. “We went to practices and they wouldn’t leave,” Nuness has said.

Tyus, who turns 22 next month, is one of only six players who were on the Wolves’ roster in April of last year. The club has nine new players including injured forward Jimmy Butler who the Wolves hope will return soon from his knee surgery and at least be available for the playoffs if Minnesota can qualify.

The Wolves have sold out 15 games at Target Center this season, the most since 2003-2004 when they last qualified for the postseason.

The Pirates’ Jameson Taillon, who overcame testicular cancer last year, earned his first win this season after starting against the Twins yesterday. Taillon, 8-7 with a 4.44 ERA last season, was the second MLB overall draft choice in 2010 and debuted with the Pirates in 2016.

The Twins haven’t had success bringing over high profile players from Japan but it looks like a different story for the Angels and rookie pitcher-DH Shohei Ohtani. He won his MLB pitching debut Sunday against the Angels, showing off a 100-miles per hour fast ball, according to NBC Sports California who reported 240 Japanese media were at the game in Oakland against the A’s.

It’s a good guess former Gopher coach Tubby Smith’s salary at his new position with High Point University in North Carolina is paying him less than $200,000 annually. A financial report on athletics from the University for school year June 1, 2013 through May 31, 2014 listed head basketball coach Scott Cherry’s compensation at $89,601. The same report listed basketball revenues during that period at about $1.9 million and operating expenses of approximately $1.6 million.

Smith, who played at High Point, is at his third school since being fired by the Gophers in March of 2013. Smith earned seven-figure compensation while coaching at Minnesota, Texas Tech and Memphis where he was dismissed last month and reportedly received a settlement of over $9 million.

The Gophers are offering discounted season tickets for football and men’s basketball and hockey to U alums who have graduated within the last five years. Pricing per ticket is $199 for football, $249 for basketball and $399 for hockey.

Fans can scout Minnesota Wild unsigned draft picks Nicholas Boka (Michigan), Avery Peterson (UMD) and Nick Swaney (UMD) in the NCAA Frozen Four April 5-7 at Xcel Energy Center. UMD plays Ohio State in the first semifinal the evening of April 5, while Michigan meets Notre Dame in the other semifinal. Both games will be televised on ESPN2. The championship game the night of April 7 will be seen on ESPN.

The Wild, who qualified for the playoffs last night, are one of only two NHL teams (Pittsburgh is the other) that has made the postseason six consecutive years.

Gopher baseball coach John Anderson, who labels Indiana as the favorite for the Big Ten title but sees his team as a contender, speaks to the CORES lunch group May 10 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Bloomington, 1114 American Blvd. More information is available by contacting Jim Dotseth, dotsethj@comcast.net. CORES is an acronym for coaches, officials, reporters, educators and sports fans.

 

Guard Help Priority for U, Pitino

April 01, 2018 - (0) comments

 

A Sunday notes column.

A Gopher athletic department source said he didn’t expect to see Richard Pitino at the Final Four in San Antonio this weekend because the Gopher coach is focused on recruiting. College basketball coaches typically attend the games but Deputy AD John Cunningham said Pitino is working on filling two scholarship openings.

Pitino is all but certain to target at least one, and perhaps two backcourt players. Multiple reports have Minnesota pursuing Pitt transfer and point guard Marcus Carr who averaged 10 points and four assists last season as a freshman.

Carr, though, wouldn’t be eligible to play until a year from this fall. The Gophers need help now with their backcourt which loses senior point guard Nate Mason and lacks depth. Ryan James, the basketball recruiting authority for GopherIllustrated.com, told Sports Headliners Carr is a talented player and Minnesota could be willing to take him even though he has to sit out a year.

James predicted Pitino’s priority is finding a “ball handler” for next season, while using the second scholarship on the best player the Gophers can land regardless of position. The ball handler, he said, could be a point guard, or combo guard.

Many transfers are available and the market size may work in Minnesota’s favor in finding players who can help next season. James believes it could be the end of April or beyond before the Gophers announce the names of one or two commits. “There is no need to rush,” he said.

This year’s Final Four is in San Antonio but next year comes to Minneapolis for the fourth time and first ever at U.S. Bank Stadium. Economic impact on the local economy for the April 6-8, 2019 event could be between $100 million and $300 million. The 2017 impact on host city Phoenix was over $320 million, according to multiple online reports including Azcentral.com.

John Anderson

Stadium preparations in advance of the Final Four here will eliminate any amateur baseball games at the facility next winter, including more than 10 nonconference Gophers games, according to coach John Anderson. He said he will be able to find eight away games against warmer weather schools but won’t be able to replace all the games originally scheduled at U.S. Bank Stadium before being told the facility isn’t available for baseball. The Gophers won’t play their targeted 2019 total of 56 nonconference and Big Ten games.

Minnesota is scheduled to play its first home outdoor series this season at Siebert Field April 6-8 against Penn State. Last week snow was being removed from the bullpen and artificial surface in the outfield. In Lincoln, Nebraska last Sunday the Gophers defeated the Cornhuskers in temps below freezing. Anderson compared gripping a baseball in cold weather to the feel of a “cue stick” but freshmen pitchers Patrick Fredrickson and Max Meyer combined to throw a 2-0 shutout.

A Big Ten rule is that games are to be played in temperatures of 29 degrees or higher. There is urgency to battle through the elements because the conference doesn’t allow for makeup games that are lost because of weather. With forecasted temps nearing freezing next weekend, the Gophers will try to play the games. “We don’t have any other options,” Anderson said.

It’s been a painful start to the MLB season for former Twins pitchers Pat Neshek and Anthony Swarzak. Neshek, perhaps the Phillies best relief pitcher, recently went on the 10-day disabled list with a shoulder injury. Swarzak, now with the Mets, suffered an oblique injury yesterday.

The Twins Spring Ballpark Pass costing $49 for 13 games in April doesn’t include the sold out home opener Thursday. The forecasted high that day is for mid-30’s.

The Atlanta Braves are another MLB team offering discounts with some tickets available for $5 this weekend at SunTrust Park.

It might be a near consensus view among fans and insiders that Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle made the best of possible hires, with Bob Motzko as his new head hockey coach. “I think he’ll be a great coach,” said former captain Casey Hankinson. “…I think he’s got a lot of energy. I like the way he coaches.”

Motzko, who turned 57 last month, probably wouldn’t have been pursued by Coyle if he were a few years older. Not likely either that Coyle would have targeted Motzko if he were the head coach at a Big Ten school. Almost never does a Big Ten program go after the head coach at another conference school in the high profile sports of basketball, football and hockey.

Motzko built St. Cloud State into a hockey power and in 13 seasons had the Huskies in the NCAA Tournament eight times. As a student of hockey he acknowledges using the ideas of others. “That’s what a good coach is, he’s a thief,” Motzko said.

At the St. Thomas Pro Day the NFL Vikings and Bears showed interest in Tommies juniors Jacques Perra and Blake Weber, and senior Matt Christenson. Quarterback Perra and linebacker Weber (both former Gophers) will play one more season for the Tommies, while Christenson has used up his eligibility.

Tommies coach Glenn Caruso is bringing back past teams to celebrate his 10 years with the program (110-17 record, six MIAC titles, eight NCAA playoffs). Following the spring scrimmage at Palmer Field May 12, there will be a celebration at the Anderson Student Center.

Caruso texted that last semester 51 of his players made the Dean’s List for their outstanding academic work.

The Minnesota High School Football Coaches Association’s Clinic starts Thursday at the DoubleTree Hotel in St. Louis Park, and pre-registration savings end April 2. Prior to April 3 the costs per individual and staffs are $95 and $500 respectively; afterwards $105 and $550. Featured speakers during the three-day clinic will include Matt Birk, P.J. Fleck, Glen Mason, Bob Nielson, and Mike Prieffer. More at Mnfootballcoaches.com.

 

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