The following appeared in Vermillion, SD’s The Equalizer.
With college graduation behind us and high school graduation right around the corner, I felt it was appropriate to kick off the summer months with another Pseudo Mailbag. That’s right, it’s fake questions from real people answered by yours truly. First question…
“Is there anything better than the NHL playoffs?”
-NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman
Yes, the NBA playoffs.
Postseason hockey doesn’t differ a whole lot from regular season hockey with the exception of larger crowds and longer overtimes. But the NBA playoffs are completely different—and better—than the NBA regular season. There’s world-class defense, there are superstars clashing in crunch time, there are 20,000 fans wearing the same colored t-shirt—it’s unbeatable.
If you need further evidence, take a look at Game 1 of the Spurs-Warriors series (which the Spurs won in double-overtime). I watched the game with a beyond-passionate Warriors fan, and, let me tell you, I have never, in my life, been taken on such a vicarious emotional roller coaster. Topsy-turvy, unpredictable, multiple OMG moments. I’ve probably said this a dozen times before, but that playoff game was the greatest I’ve ever seen.
In hockey, you wait tensely for a while and then either explode or collapse. Basketball is more fluid. It’s constantly up-and-down; like going ten rounds in a cage fight. Best playoff sport there is.
“If I were an athlete, who would I be?”
-Media mogul Justin Timberlake
This is a great question, J.T. I’m glad you asked. When I think of you, I think of versatility. I really don’t know what to call you other than “entertainer.” Are you the face of an old boy-band? Are you a rom-com actor? Are you a comedian? Are you a solo artist? It’s hard to really pinpoint one because you are such an entrepreneur of media. So, to answer the question, we need to come up with the most versatile athlete of all time, which has to be Deion Sanders.
He one-upped Michael Jordan by playing in two professional sports leagues at the same time. He won two Super Bowls and appeared in a World Series. He’s been a rapper, a TV analyst, a basketball assistant coach, and Leon Sandcastle (YouTube it). Conclusion: Justin Timberlake=Deion Sanders.
“How much longer can I stay with the Twins at this level of ineptitude?”
-Twins rookie outfielder Aaron Hicks
Let me put it this way: if you are still on the major-league roster by the time this column hits publication, I’d be surprised. As of May 7th, you are hitting .124 with zero multi-hit games. If not for a five-game hitting streak in late April, we might be talking about an everyday player having less than ten hits through 30 games played. Ouch.
I love the patience the organization has had with you, but at some point the Twins need to insert a beating heart in your spot in the lineup. I still have faith in you, Aaron. Get some Triple-A at-bats and come back soon.
“Sammy boy, my wife is having twins. Any suggestions on names?”
-Twins catcher Joe Mauer
Sure, I’ve got a comprehensive list for you. The first set pays homage to Twins’ history. The second set is all rhyming. The third set is a mixed bag.
Set One: Kent and Kirby, Dick and Bert, Terry Ryan and Billy Smith (first and middle names), Hubert and Harmon, Gardy and Kelly, Minnie and Paul.
Set Two: Brew (short for Killebrew) and Carew, Mike and Strike, Thatcher and Catcher, Seven and Blyleven.
Set Three: Joe I and Joe II, Dow and Nasdaq, Torii and Hunter, Bud and Grant, Brick and Rock (Mauer means “wall” in German), Swing and Miss (if they are girls).
Can’t wait until Christian Ponder and his new bride give birth to Vikings!
Speaking of the Vikings…
“How’d we do in the draft, Sam? I need help! I can’t carry the team on my back every year!”
-Vikings running back Adrian Peterson
Help is on the way, Adrian. The NFL could not have rigged the draft and made it more favorable for the Vikings. Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd is a natural replacement for Kevin Williams once Williams, the longest-tenured Viking, finishes his contract. Xavier Rhodes is a guaranteed hit, right? I mean, if you consider the Vikings’ awful track record with drafting cornerbacks, the law of the averages says that Rhodes will be a future Hall-of-Famer. Finally, Cordarrelle Patterson has to be in the running for Offensive Rookie of the Year, and he’ll compete closely with Star Lotulelei for the Most Frequently Mispronounced Name award.
Yeah, I’m probably drinking the front-office’s Kool-Aid a little bit too fast, but these three first-round picks are going to be impactful WEEK ONE; no doubt in my mind. In the NFL Draft, you want dollar-bills in the front end and coins at the back end. Dollars are the immediate playmakers, while coins are the prospects who, hopefully, will gain some interest and add up to dollars some day. The Vikings got the best of both. They essentially swapped their second and third-round picks for three crisp dollar-bills in round one, then still got six additional picks, or coins, in the late rounds.
How did they do it? GM Rick Spielman’s football IQ is Mensa-worthy. I could gloat about how smart your GM is, Adrian, but this column needs to wrap before 5,000 words.
Enjoy the warmer weather!