John Shipley / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS — After serving as the third base umpire for the Twins' matinee against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018, Joe West had worked 5,164 major league games, passing former colleague Bruce Froemming for second all time. If West, 65, keeps working, he could pass Bill Klem, a National League umpire from 1905-41, for the MLB record sometime around June 2020. And right now he has no plans to stop.
MINNEAPOLIS—Miguel Sano was trying on his new hat at his locker Tuesday, a smaller one that will better fit his head now that he has shorn the hair he was wearing in dreadlocks that touched his shoulders. "Helmet, too," he said. "I just cut it today." The Twins third baseman had two reasons for cutting the hair he estimates took him about three years to grow. One, he was getting too hot and sweaty, and two, he was tired of his helmet falling off when he ran the bases. "It fell off too much," he said. "I don't like that."
MINNEAPOLIS — The 2017 Minnesota Twins careened into the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline on a 5-12 skid, walked off in the last three. After falling from three games over .500 and 2½ games out in the American League Central to three under and seven out, the brass traded closer Brandon Kintzler to Washington for a prospect and international bonus pool money.
MINNEAPOLIS — It was 27 degrees when Jose Berrios threw the first pitch of an 11-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Saturday at Target Field. “Coldest game in all of baseball, right?” outfielder Robbie Grossman said. Not quite, but it might have felt that way for the Twins, who fell behind early and never caught up in their first lousy game of the young season. Minnesota clawed back to pull within 5-3 in the sixth inning but never got the big hit it needed, and things fell apart soon afterward.
PHILADELPHIA — Now we know, even miracle momentum has trouble carrying. The Vikings might have swept into the NFC championship game on the wings of a last-second touchdown reception in the divisional playoffs, but it had no effect in Sunday's 38-7 loss to the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Even a 75-yard scoring drive on the first possession of the game withered on the vine for the Vikings, who gave up the next 38 points in their worst playoff loss since a 41-0 setback against the New York Giants in January 2001.
MINNEAPOLIS — University of Minnesota center Reggie Lynch has been found responsible for violating the school's sexual misconduct policy in the spring of 2016 and has been suspended from school and the team until August 2020, according to a copy of findings by the U's Office for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action. Lynch, 23, can appeal the decision.
Anthony Barr's return to Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., on Saturday, Dec. 23, will be different for the Vikings linebacker. The question is whether it will turn ugly. Barr's Oct. 15 hit on Aaron Rodgers all but ended the Green Bay quarterback's season, and started a competitive spiral that has the Packers out of the playoffs for the first time in nine years. Fans will no doubt have words for Barr, and when it was suggested Thursday, Dec. 21, they might be in good humor, Barr said, "Uh, doubtful."
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — When Mike Zimmer arrived in Minnesota in 2014, the road to the NFC North title went straight through Green Bay, Wis. That's starting to change. The Vikings will visit Lambeau Field for what for them is a big one Saturday night, Dec. 23; for the Packers, not so much. Green Bay enters the 7:30 p.m. kickoff out of the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2008. "It's disappointing," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "It's a standard that's unacceptable here."
Before we start getting all crazy, let's take a small step back. Not a big one, no surrender, just a reasonable retreat so as to properly assess the field in front of us. Is it safe for Minnesota Vikings fans to start thinking about their team playing a Super Bowl in their own stadium? Well, there's thinking about the possibility and there's getting excited about the possibility. In light of all available evidence, you will make the right choice.
MINNEAPOLIS—Don't get your hearts broken, Minnesota. This isn't a prediction about the American League wild-card game Tuesday night, Oct. 3, between the Twins at Yankees in New York; it's advice from a friend. Baseball's new wild-card format is unforgiving, and what has taken months of emotional investment will be over, for one unlucky fan base, in an instant.