The Twins are 2-0 this season because of superb pitching, timely defense and (no surprise) Byron Buxton playing like the team (and perhaps American League) MVP.
The team has won two American League Central Division games in Kansas City against the Royals by identical scores of 2-0. Buxton, the Twins’ designated hitter, has scored three of the team’s four runs and “pushed the envelope” with his base running, per manager Rocco Baldelli.
In Minnesota’s opening series win Thursday he stretched an outfield drive into a triple and scored the team’s first run. Yesterday he scored both runs.
Buxton set up Minnesota’s second run in the sixth inning Saturday by doing what few others can. First he advanced from second to third base on a ground ball hit by Jose Miranda to the shortstop. Then he scored on a short outfield fly ball off the bat of Kyle Farmer, running 30.1 feet per second, according to Twins TV analyst Glen Perkins. No wonder after the game, Baldelli said approvingly that Buxton “pushed the envelope” on the bases.
Buxton has a single, double and triple in his first two games. He is two home runs short of hitting 100 in his career.
In Buxton’s early seasons with the Twins he didn’t show a lot of power but that’s changed. In 92 games and 340 at bats last season he hit 28 homers. At 29 years old he has the potential this season to become the fourth hitter in franchise history to join the 40 home run club (the others are Brian Dozier, Harmon Killebrew and Roy Sievers). If Buxton could send 50 over the fence, he would break Killebrew’s single season club record of 49.
Potential is practically Buxton’s middle name. His career has been one characterized by do-everything talent in fielding, throwing, hitting and base running but also being sidelined by more injuries and missed time than any Twins star ever. Only once in his nine-year career has he played in over 100 games.
For now, the Twins are trying to protect Buxton’s health by not playing him in the outfield where diving for fly balls or crashing into walls to save potential home runs can be hazardous to the uber-talented center fielder. The first two games of the season have shown Buxton doesn’t need a glove to be the team MVP.
Sports Illustrated’s baseball issue has the Twins finishing second in the division with a 87-75 record, a game behind the Guardians. However, the magazine predicts Minnesota defeats Cleveland in the postseason before losing to the Astros. The World Series forecast has the Yankees beating the Padres.
Weather allowing, the Twins will face an early season test against the Astros in a three-game series in Minneapolis starting Thursday. Minnesota is starting the season against two of baseball’s weakest teams in the Royals and Marlins (Monday-Wednesday in Miami).
Sports Illustrated said the Twins “spent more money on big league free agents this winter ($241 million) than the rest of the division combined ($176.75 million).”
This is Dick Bremer’s 40th season of Twins broadcasts. The team’s TV play-by-play man will work games with a rotation of four analysts, all Twins alumni: Justin Morneau, Roy Smalley, LaTroy Hawkins and Glen Perkins.
New Timberwolves owner Marc Lore spoke about entrepreneurship at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management Friday.
Legendary former college football coach Lou Holtz, who coached the Gophers in 1984 and 1985, was just inducted into the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, the nonprofit educational organization that honors the achievements of outstanding individuals and encourages youth to pursue their ambitions through higher education.
For over 75 years the Horatio Alger Award has been awarded “to esteemed individuals who have succeeded despite facing adversities, and who have remained committed to education and charitable efforts in their communities.” Holtz, the son of a bus driver during the Great Depression, got his first job at nine-years-old as a paper boy and went to become one of college football’s most famous coaches including at Notre Dame where he won a national championship.
Two days after the football Golden Gophers open at home on August 31 against Nebraska, the North Dakota State Bison will take on Eastern Washington in the first college football game ever at U.S. Bank Stadium. Tickets for the September 2 game went on sale Friday.
NDSU has nearly 15,000 alumni in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and 26,000 across the state of Minnesota. The Bison drew 34,544 fans to their 2019 season opener against Butler at Target Field. North Dakota State claims about 26,000 alums in Minnesota, including 15 in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
St. Thomas, with the nation’s longest home game winning streak at 26, opens its season September 2 against Black Hills State. The Pioneer league champion Tommies also have nonconference games September 9 at South Dakota and September 16 at Harvard.
A college basketball source told Sports Headliners coveted point guard Andrew Rohde, transferring from St. Thomas, may enroll at Gonzaga.
The Twin Cities and state of Minnesota have long ranked at or near the top for most interest per capita in fantasy football. That obsession in speculating how players and teams preform will carry over if legalized sports wagering is enacted in the state. With about six weeks to the close of the current state legislative session, a bill approving sports betting could pass.
Minnesota native Bill Herzog was a basketball official for 63 years including Big Ten games from 1976 until 1988. Herzog, a Florida resident for 30 years now, worked high school games in that state until 2019. Sports Headliners asked his opinion awhile ago of college basketball officiating this year.
“In general, I think the officiating I have seen this year has been very good,” Herzog said via email. “As an ex official, I look to see if they are using proper floor mechanics and very seldom do I see them out of position. This is important because if you are not in proper position, you don’t have a very good chance to make the right call.
“There are still those marginal calls that can always be questioned. That’s basketball and those calls were there 40 years ago and will always be a part of the game. But in general, I think the officiating that I have seen would grade out at A-. …
“One thing has been very evident this year is that I have not seen many, if not any, overweight officials. That’s a good thing and in general the total staff seems to be young and vibrant, which was not the case when I was working where officials just seemed to hang on forever.”
College officials can make their livelihoods from officiating over a five- month period, working several games per week. Herzog’s understanding is the Big Ten pays $4,000 per game. “Seems like a lot but they have to pay their own travel, hotel and meals with that fee,” Herzog wrote. “I am assuming that the other major conferences pay the same.”