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Twins Future Excites Dave St. Peter

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September 19, 2017

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Dave St. Peter runs the Twins with steady emotions. The club’s president is not about hype, or deep despair. He’s seen the franchise lose over 90 games during five of the six previous, but this year Minnesota ranks with the surprise teams in Major League Baseball and could be headed to the postseason as a Wild Card team.

St. Peter told Sports Headliners he believes the club is also on its way to a “sustained period of competitiveness” beyond 2017. “That’s what makes me excited,” he said. “I am incredibly excited for 2018 and beyond.”

The Twins finished with a 59-103 record last season. “A lot of our guys, frankly, underperformed a year ago,” St. Peter said.

What’s happened to the Twins this season is several of the younger players have come closer to reaching their potentials, while veterans like starting pitcher Ervin Santana and first baseman Joe Mauer have produced better than a year ago, and the club has found unexpected contributors who even joined the team since opening day.

Few, if any observers, foresaw the Twins having a 78-72 record on September 19, and holding on to a Wild Card spot for the postseason. “Are we overperforming in 2017? Possibly, based on the metrics, based on run differential and things of that nature,” St. Peter said. “But you know, I think our club…is making great strides—to be competitive, to be playing meaningful games deep into September, to be in position to go to postseason.”

The Twins are only +8 in run differential for the season, according Teamrankings.com. Thirteen out of 30 big league clubs rank ahead of Minnesota including Central Division rival Cleveland, a team that is +227 in run differential for the season and running away with the division title.

St. Peter appreciates the contributions of so many players to the Twins’ success, and brought up several names when asked who is the club’s MVP. Certainly Santana with 15 wins and Mauer, who is hitting over .300 and playing like a Gold Glove winner in the field, deserve having their names on any list.

Santana has been the kind of No. 1 starter a contending team must have. Mauer, dogged with health problems the last few years, hasn’t hit over .300 since 2013. “There’s no question in my mind that he’s healthier than he’s been,” St. Peter said.

Worth Noting

The Twins total home attendance in 2016 was 1,963,912—their lowest total since moving into Target Field in 2010. Despite fan pessimism and inclement weather early this season, St. Peter said the Twins will draw over 2 million fans at home

Star Tribune columnist Sid Hartman, 97 and still using a walker after his accident late last year, continues to compete for news and regularly shows up at practices, news conferences and games of Minnesota teams.

College basketball magazines are on newsstands including the Athlon Sports 2017-2018 issue. The Gophers are ranked No. 16 in the nation, predicted to finish second in the Big Ten and advance to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. The only Big Ten team ahead of Minnesota is No. 2 Michigan State.

The magazine includes Gophers Nate Mason and Amir Coffey on its All-Big Ten second team. Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy is on the third team. Reggie Lynch is ranked the No. 2 “rim protector” in the nation.

Minnesota coach Richard Pitno said on last Sunday’s WCCO Radio “Sports Huddle” program that “98 percent” of season tickets for home games have been renewed.

The Vikings started the 2016 season with a 5-0 record. Since then, and including their 1-1 start in 2017, they are 4-9.

Vikings players Mackensie Alexander and Jayron Kearse will sign items for a fee on September 30 from 11 a.m. to noon at the Triple Crown Sports Collectibles show at Southtown Shopping Center in Bloomington. Ex-Vikings John Henderson and Sammy White will also be at the show and signing for a fee from 10 to 11 a.m.

Blair Bobblehead

Show hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and pre-orders will be accepted for a limited edition bobblehead of former Vikings linebacker Matt Blair. Ex-Vikings coach Bud Grant, who had been scheduled for September 30, will be at the Triple Crown show February 17. More information about Triple Crown shows is available by emailing vikingstwinsman@gmail.com

The 3-0 football Gophers have given up only 24 total points and are unscored upon in the second half.

Jeff Sagarin’s USA Today rankings today of 254 college football teams has Minnesota No. 39. The teams Minnesota has defeated—Buffalo, Oregon State and Middle Tennessee State—are No. 119, 96 and 92 respectively.

Eden Prairie High School coach Mike Grant told Sports Headliners this morning that Benny Sapp III, held out of last week’s game against Prior Lake because of a sore knee will see a doctor today, but Grant believes his star cornerback, who has verbally committed to the Gophers, will be okay. The undefeated Eagles could be headed to another state championship under Grant. “Somebody will have to play great to beat us,” he said.

Although the college hockey season hasn’t started, the opinion here is Gophers Tyler Sheehy and Casey Mittelstadt should be on anybody’s candidates list for the 2018 Hobey Baker Award given to college hockey’s best player. Sheehy, a junior forward, was a finalist for the award last season when he was Big Ten Player of the Year and a first team All-American. Mittelstadt, a freshman forward, was drafted eighth overall by the Sabres in the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft—making him the Gophers’ highest draft pick since 2006.

A Big Ten coaches poll has for the third time in five years named the Gophers favorites to win the conference title. Minnesota plays Alberta October 1 in a home exhibition game.

Bobby Heenan, the famous wrestling personality who died Sunday, is known better nationally because of his work for the WWE but decades ago was part of Verne Gagne’s Minneapolis Boxing and Wrestling Club’s operation. Former Gopher football player Jim Brunzell, who also was a headliner in Gagne’s organization, referred to Heenan as a “dear friend and blood brother” in an email. “He was a genius in our business and consummate performer,” Brunzell wrote.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers.

Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section.

A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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