On a team where almost everyone seems to have a turn as the hero of the moment, 35-year-old Phil Nevin may be next in line. Acquired by the Twins from the Chicago Cubs on September 1 to provide power and run production, Nevin’s playing time has been limited on a roster filled with younger and currently more productive players. The right handed hitting first baseman has had just 30 at bats, with six hits, no home runs and one RBI. Known as a home run hitter, Nevin homered 41 times for San Diego in 2001 and as recently as 2004 hit 26 for the Padres.
His role as more of a spectator than participant is one he accepts. Nevin talks about being ready for designated hitting against left handers and occasionally giving Justin Morneau “a rest” while he plays first base and Morneau DH’s. “I know there’s going to come a time during the season where I am going to be in a position to help this team out and win a game or two, and hopefully then again in the playoffs,” Nevin said.
Nevin has been impressed with the quality of people in the Twins’ locker room. Teammates have made his late season transition to a new team much easier than it could have been and he talks about joining a “great group of guys.”
At his age and being a free agent after this season, Nevin’s run with the Twins may be only for 2006. Plus, in the future he’s interested in playing more. “I would like a chance to play everyday next year but I am not worried about that right now,” he said.
Nevin started the season with Texas where he hit 9 home runs in 176 at bats before being traded to the Cubs on May 31. With the Cubs he homered 12 times in 179 at bats.
Kicker Ryan Longwell said on KFAN earlier this week that only five people knew about the fake field goal play leading to a Vikings touchdown against Carolina last Sunday. The five, including Longwell, were holder Chris Kluwe, receiver Rich Owens, special teams coach Paul Ferraro and head coach Brad Childress.
Injured rookie quarterback Tarvaris Jackson showed his athleticism and scrambling ability during pre-season. Still, he knows if has an opportunity to play during the regular season he must run out of necessity, not by command, and stay aware to “just be safe and get down.”
Purdue coach Joe Tiller talking about Gopher senior quarterback Bryan Cupito’s improvement since his sophomore season: “What’s changed in a three year period is he makes them (the Gophers) much more potent offensively because of his abilities. He is really the forgotten guy (among quarterbacks) in the league (Big Ten Conference). He is the biggest improvement that has occurred at Minnesota.”
Gopher coach Glen Mason said on WCCO radio earlier this week that Joel Monroe, who has consistently kicked the ball into the end zone on kickoffs, is the “most improved” player on the team.
Former Vikings radio play-by-play announcer Joe McConnell is on an indefinite leave of absence for health reasons as Purdue’s football radio voice, according to the Boilermakers’ Web site. McConnell has been experiencing double vision.
Local business executive and former Gopher tennis coach Jerry Noyce, appointed earlier this year to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, is serving on a subcommittee to encourage corporate America’s workers to exercise more.
Ellis Park Race Track in Henderson, Kentucky will host Claiming Crown in 2007 but the well-known national horse racing event returns to Canterbury Park in 2008.
Many head coaches in the NFL and major college football are in first year assignments. They have had years of experience as assistants but now they have to lead their teams. Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant was asked to recall important experiences or lessons from his first season as boss of the Vikings in 1967. His responses may surprise you.
Grant said many people think so much of coaching is X’s and O’s. “That’s not it at all,” he explained. “Coaching is evaluations and observations. (It’s) getting the right players in the right places and the right positions and providing the right defenses and offenses for those people to be productive.
“You can’t start with the system and then get the players for the system. You start with the players and get the system for the players. I think one of the most important things young coaches forget is that it is not what you provide but it’s what the players provide. I will guarantee you that if you don’t have the better players you are not going to win. I don’t care how good of a coach you are.
“Coaching is really over rated. Maybe a better term is that you are a manager. You manage the people you have. You don’t try to coach something that is not there.”
Grant’s son Mike has coached powerhouse teams at Eden Prairie High School for years and has won four state championships. As a youngster he watched his father coach including in training camp. “What I learned from him was more how to deal with people and handle people,” Mike said.
The younger Grant said players want to be individuals and it’s a “battle” making them into a team. He said his father had a way of “defusing problems.”