Observing the sports scene in Dec.

Published 9:43am Thursday, December 23, 2010

Column: Jon Laging, Talking Sports

It’s the time of year when one can sit back, look back and review the sporting scene. A chance to review recent events and the people that made them happen.

Jon Laging

Our Minnesota Twins have had a busy offseason to date. They have either traded or dropped starting shortstop J.J. Hardy and second baseman Orlando Hudson with the expectation that a Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka and a utility player Alexi Casilla will take their places. They also traded backup catcher Jose Morales for a minor league pitcher. Along with the possibility of other free agent pitchers leaving they have lost relief pitchers Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier. As it stands now, the Twins do not have as good a team as the one that reported to spring training earlier this year.

There has not yet been a hue and cry from the faithful. Probably because of the success General Manager Bill Smith had when stocking the roster last year. However, he has a ways to go to match last year’s efforts when he acquired two all-star middle infielders and future Hall of Fame slugger Jim Thome. We will continue to watch Smith with shaky confidence at this juncture.

We don’t have to worry about the Minnesota Vikings anymore. That ship has sailed. We have watched the Viking’s funeral ship ablaze with the 2010-11 expectations sink in the nearest fjord. The Vikings’ record has not done the Wilf’s chances for a new stadium much good. However they caught a break when the Metrodome roof collapsed. Good fortune again smiled on them when it was found that the Dome could not be quickly repaired. “Gosh, does this point up the need for a new stadium or what!” I always thought the Vikings would get a new stadium anyway but this helps. I will say that the Wilfs have been more subtle than the Pohlads when the baseball owners threatened to either move or contract the Twins. Perhaps it’s because the NFL wants a team in the upper midwest with its 14th largest audience bringing all that TV revenue. Besides, while the Twins were having attendance problems that was not the case with the Vikings. The Wilfs will get their stadium, probably without alienating many Minnesotans.

The Minnesota Gopher basketball team is ranked in the top 20. Heady stuff and I don’t know if Tubby can keep them there. But they are fun to watch and perhaps more importantly they look like they have a future with point guard Al Nolen, Mr. Outside Blake Hoffarber and Mr. Inside Trevor Mbakwe. However, how the team fares may depend on two players with enormous potential in center Ralph Sampson III and athletic forward Rodney Williams.

Things are looking up for Gopher basketball and the Twins. The Vikings appear to have money to spend and that always helps.