Column: Old Foolish Fan makes his triumphant return

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 19, 2006

Jon Laging, Talking Sports

This past month I&8217;ve been looking for the old guy. I tried his usual haunts, but he was nowhere to be found. Old Foolish Fan has the ability to get to the core of a subject discussed during an interview by merely saying “you mean?” Like magic the person being interviewed feels compelled to respond without the usual twisting and dodging.

The other day I walked into our local grocery store and there he was carrying smoked salmon, cheese and a box of crackers. It looked like he was headed for a little snack. I stopped him and asked what he had learned from his recent interviews. He was somewhat reluctant to answer at first, but after the promise of his favorite snack beverage he agreed to divulge his latest fictitious interviews.

He said he was able to corner Terry Ryan for a short interview. Old Foolish Fan: &8220;Tell me, Mr. Ryan. Are you disappointed in the Twins&8217; early exit from the playoffs?&8221; Terry Ryan: &8220;No, I felt the team did a marvelous job of overcoming innumerable obstacles during the season. Coming back from 121/2 games down with all the injuries had an accumulative effect on the team, particularly Shannon Stewart and Francisco Liriano. When you take a $6 million man and a phenom away from a team, it hurts. It hurts a lot.&8221; O.F.F.: &8220;You mean?&8221; T.R.: &8220;Yes, of course I was disappointed. I&8217;m only human. However, what I said about the team is true.&8221;

O.F.F.: &8220;Do you feel that Francisco Liriano will recover from his arm problems to play an important role in the 2007 season?&8221; T.R.: &8220;We have watched Liriano carefully, consulted with physicians and have Francisco on a regimen we feel to be very effective. We have every

confidence Francisco will with us in 2007.&8221; O.F.F.: &8220;You mean?&8221; T.R.: &8220;Who knows?&8221;

O.F.F.: &8220;I see you have brought Torii Hunter back for another season. Why?&8221; T.R.: &8220;Torii Hunter continues to contribute to the Twins in many meaningful ways. He is a clubhouse leader, excellent fielder and fine hitter. We are extremely pleased Torii will be a part of the 2007 Minnesota Twins.&8221; O.F.F.: &8220;You mean?&8221; T.R.: &8220;It was the best option available.&8221;

O.F.F.: &8220;Will Torii be coming back after next year?&8221; T.R.: &8220;After going through all the parameters, paradigms and inputs a decision will eventually be made. It will be based on what is best for the Twins and Torii. The decision will not be easy for either party.&8221; O.F.F.: &8220;You mean?&8221; T.R.: &8220;It depends on the money.&8221;

O.F.F.: &8220;All the Twins&8217; fans want to thank you for the marvelous run of the past five years.&8221;

Old Foolish Fan left Terry Ryan and was fortunate to find Minnesota Gopher football coach Glen Mason during a relaxed time.

O.F.F.: &8220;Mr. Mason, the season is not going in the direction you envisioned. What is your response to the question: What is wrong with Gopher football and when can we look forward to better times?&8221; Glen Mason: &8220;It has been a tough year, but I have hopes for the future. Injuries and a lack of depth have hurt our team. But the boys haven&8217;t given up and we hope that our past decade of rebuilding will soon pay off. O.F.F.: &8220;You mean?&8221; G.M.: &8220;Who cares, I have a five-year contract.&8221;

(Jon Laging writes a regional sports column from his home in Preston.)