Column: Fall is comingPublished 8:22am Thursday, August 26, 2010
Jon Laging, Talking Sports
Fall is coming closer. When I think back to those dog days of August, autumn and cool weather seemed a long ways away. But time marched on and here we are approaching September and the fall season. For most, it’s a wonderful time of year. The weather is beautiful, foliage is grand and bonfires with hot dogs, s’mores and roasted marshmallows await.
For a sports fan it has all of the above plus baseball’s playoffs, World Series and the beginning of high school, college and pro football.
Let’s start with baseball. Back in March when I was at the Twins’ Spring Training expectations were high. You could sense that after General Manager Bill Smith had gotten J.J. Hardy, Jim Thome, Orlando Hudson and Carl Pavano into the fold. I had been critical of Smith in the past with some of his acquisitions. But Mr. Smith, all is forgiven. Your new players were home runs. Particularly the signing of Jim Thome for a million and a half. What a steal! The only strike out was relief pitcher Clay Condrey and who can predict an injury?
It would have been nice if the team could have latched onto pitcher Cliff Lee during the trading season. It seems to me that the Twins still need a dominating pitcher. Not so much for the Central Division, but for possible post season play.
Still as the days grow shorter we are able to watch the Twins head toward the finish line. Wouldn’t it be nice as the maple trees turn red, to have our Twins playing in the World Series? It’s possible and if they are, the thanks should not only go to the players and Manager Ron Gardenhire, but also to General Manager Bill Smith, President Dave St. Peter, Twins’ holding company President Jerry Bell and owner Jim Pohlad.
Years ago in the latter part of August the days were warm as they are now, but as we young guys began to think about school and the new teacher, the evenings were starting to cool off. Light jacket weather. Some of us grade schoolers would gather by the football field and watch the high schoolers get ready for the coming season. If there was a loose football we’d pass it back and forth. Maybe even kick it around. You had to be careful not to get the football or yourself in the way of football practice. All this led to high school football’s opening kickoff with the band, the cheerleaders and the crowd.
As you grew older you may have gotten to go to the Twin Cities to see the Minnesota Gophers play ball. That was big time. The names of the teams the Gophers faced were magic. The fighting Illini of Illinois, The Purdue Boilermakers, The Michigan Wolverines. They took on a kind of mythical quality, larger than life. And if you were lucky you might see U of M alumnus Vice-President Hubert Humphrey walk through the rotunda on a beautiful autumn day.
I’m old enough now that the teams don’t inspire the same kind of awe as they did back then. In fact, sometimes a person becomes quite critical of the Gophers and the Vikings. The Gophers make criticism quite easy with their lack of success and mediocre play. Joel Maturi, Gopher Athletic Director seems to feel coaching continuity will help the Gopher football team. Maybe so, but it didn’t seem all that effective for Jim Wacker and Glen Mason.
The Vikings are out of the heat in Mankato and know that Brett Favre will lead them to a Super Bowl. But no matter what happens to the Twins, Vikings and Gophers, the one thing we can be sure of — fall is coming.