Column: Same old, same old

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 15, 2005

Jon Laging, Sports Columnist

You may have noticed that many times articles are written that have the same story line. When an event happens it is interpreted in a certain manner and subsequent stories are written in agreement.

Now in politics there can be two sides. One liberal and one conservative. The liberals are blaming the Katrina disaster on the lack of response from the Bush administration. Fox news, Barbara Bush and the boys are wondering if the people could not have done more to help themselves.

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Sports reporting doesn’t have two ready-made sides. There are not red or blue reporters. That’s not to say they don’t take one side and then another. Announcers John Madden and Al Michaels were aghast at the antics of Randy Moss when he was with the Vikings. How he brought dissension and bad chemistry to the team! However, the other night while covering Moss and his new team they explained that you don’t make a team better by subtraction, only by addition.

I think we listened to the start of a new Moss storyline. Particularly if Moss has a decent year and he probably will. That Minnesota shot itself in the foot and how could they let a game breaker like Moss get away. There will probably be millions of words written as sportswriters explain the Moss situation to us poor Minnesotans. They may be right and the truth or the possibility of the truth will help the story.

I’m not ready to jump on the why didn’t we keep Moss bandwagon. It could be that Madden, Michaels, et. al., are right. That the Moss trade was a subtraction for the Vikings. But to my mind it is not a Moss addition or subtraction, but the addition of fifty points to Tice’s coaching I. Q. that is needed.

There is another storyline that all sportswriters adhere to regarding the Twins. In fact, I have been guilty of repeating it. It has been the Holy Grail of Minnesota sportswriters that the offense would be fixed if we only had a right-handed bopper. Every time Justin Morneau, Torii Hunter, or Jacque Jones would strike out with men on base the cry would go up, “We have got to get a right-handed slugger.”

This year the cry has been louder and Terry Ryan has been taken to task, “c’mon Terry, trade one of the dozen power pitchers for a good right-handed batter.” The fans were so desperate they were besieging Ryan to trade for journeyman Joe Randa. We welcomed Bret Boone, (remember him), as he continued his descent out of baseball. The right-handed bopper storyline

was a good useful tool to hang any story hook on.

However, the most common storyline you may now hear is that the Twin’s decline should not be blamed on the lack of a right-handed hitter, but rather on overall team hitting. The decline or lack of improvement by the position players. Because that’s what happened. The Twins did not have the bopper we all talked about the past three years, but they managed to win the division three times and give a good account of themselves in the playoffs. No Twins’ position player had a better year in 2005, even Joe Mauer’s average is lower than last year’s. They all stayed the same or dropped. One player it’s easy to find fault with is Jacque Jones. For the second year in a row he has batted in the .250s. One begins to suspect Jones is a 250 hitter. He is no longer that bright young prospect. He is in his thirties and is as good as he’s going to get. Morneau was a huge disappointment. His failure to live up to what was expected was responsible for many of the team’s problems. Stewart, Ford and Punto all hit substantially below their average. No one stepped in their shoes and the team stumbled all season.

Terry Ryan has many more problems than finding a big bopper. Some problems can be fixed. Others might correct themselves. In any case, he has a big job this winter.