The complete pitching rotation for the five game playoff series is to be determined. Johan Santana will pitch game one and if there is a game five he will draw that assignment, too. For certain the Twins will be characterized by playoff inexperience since eight pitchers are making their first playoff appearances. Possible starters could include the previously mentioned young rookies, Bonser and Garza.
Pitching coach Rick Anderson expressed appreciation for having Santana, a leading Cy Young candidate with a record of 19-7 and a 2.77 ERA.
“It’s nice to probably have the best pitcher in the American league leading you off,” he said. “Let the kids who will follow him sit and watch a game and get that nervousness out before they have to run out there.”
Anderson counsels more with this pitching staff because of its inexperience than others he has had. His mantra: “Always stay positive.” He tries to find the silver lining even in a poor performance. He will tell a pitcher, “When you did this it was outstanding and that’s what we’re going to work on.”
Anderson is determined to build confidence in his staff. “Never let them drag their heads,” he said. “Try to keep them upbeat.”
The Twins bullpen, arguably the best in baseball, and a rebuilt starting staff have provided pleasant surprises for Anderson and others. “Oh, my! This is probably the most rewarding (experience as the Twins pitching coach). This is (my) fourth time to the playoffs. All the other times we had some veterans to run out there. …But this one here you are running these kids out there and they are answering the bell. It’s a wonderful thing to see how these kids respond to it.”
Anderson is hoping for similar results in the playoffs to the success of the regular season with his staff (second best staff ERA in the American League). “When you get to the playoffs (you) need to keep it loose and easy, and don’t let them get too uptight and start thinking about it,” he said. “Just go out and keep doing what you have been doing.”
Michigan, having won more college football games through the years than any other school, might have the most appropriate fight song, “The Victors.” The Wolverines hold a commanding 67-24-3 record in their series of games with the Gophers. However, the last three games between Minnesota and Michigan have been decided by a total of nine points including last season’s surprise 23-20 win by the Gophers in Ann Arbor.
The college football world will be stunned if coach Glen Mason and the Gophers win Saturday night against the Wolverines in the Metrodome. No. 6 Michigan is a refocused team from last season when the Wolverines were 7-5 and are led by new offensive and defensive coordinators. Coach Lloyd Carr said the 7-5 record didn’t sit well with his players and now they have responded with a 4-0 start to the season including a domination of Notre Dame in South Bend, defeating an Irish team (47-21) that had national title dreams.
With arguably the nation’s hottest receiver in Mario Willingham (twice Big Ten Conference Offensive Player of the Week this season) and many other talented players, the Wolverines could be on cruise control by halftime against the Gophers. It will be interesting to see how Willingham performs against the Gophers defensive backs. Then, too, the Minnesota defensive line will be challenged to mount a pass rush and stop probably the Big Ten’s best running back, Michael Hart.
The Michigan defense? It’s allowing less than 20 rushing yards per game. Yes, Minnesota is known for its running attack. No, 20 is not a typo.
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr talking about the rivalry between the Wolverines and Gophers and the Little Brown Jug dating back to 1903: “It makes it special because it is the oldest trophy in college football history.”
Gopher football coach Glen Mason asked about whether not having an on-campus stadium and collegiate atmosphere has made recruiting more difficult: “I don’t think there is any doubt about it. I know everybody who has recruited against us has used that for years and years. I only know that because the people we recruited constantly bring it up to me.”
Twins reliever Pat Neshek, from Brooklyn Center, talking about how long it takes him to warm up before he is prepared to come in the game: “Probably takes me about eight to 10 pitches and I am ready.”
Viking safety Tank Williams talking about the potential of teammate Troy Williamson for becoming a super star: “He definitely has the talent. It’s all about having the work ethic to take it to the next level. When you have that determination nothing is going to keep you from achieving your goals. That’s what it takes. He has the caliber to do it.”
The St. Paul Chamber’s Face-Off Luncheon welcoming the Minnesota Wild starts at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, October 3 at the RiverCentre Grand Ballroom. All the players will be introduced and President/General Manager Doug Risebrough will preview the season.
Northfield High School football coach Bubba Sullivan emailed to report that running back and defensive end Anthony Jacobs, who has verbally committed to the Gophers, was also offered a scholarship by Hawaii, and “Wisconsin showed a lot of interest.”
Local attorney Marshall Tanick wrote an interesting article about historical litigation involving boxing in Minnesota in a recent issue of the Minnesota Lawyer. Tanick’s interest was prompted by the enactment earlier this year of state legislation to re-establish a Minnesota Boxing Commission.