With the Wild, Twins, and Timberwolves all in action Tuesday night, I attempted to catch as much of the games as I could. I would have preferred to watch the Wild instead the Twins, but sadly I do not get the stupid NBC Sports Network. Therefore I had to listen to the Wild on the radio while watching the Twins game on mute, and then I tuned into the Wolves game at 9:30. Here’s what transpired. (Please keep your comments concerning the quality of my life or complete lack thereof to yourself.)
Wild vs Chicago: First off, let me say that listening to hockey on the radio is just plain awful. While the sloth pace of baseball is perfect for radio, the action in hockey is just too fast to translate into quality play-by-play. Even so, the Wild announcers do a fine job and make the best of it.
In a nutshell, Chicago kept the Wild on the defensive and our favorite hockey team just wasn’t able to capitalize on any of the few scoring chances they did have. The good news is that the Wild held the explosive Blackhawks to just one goal, a goal which was scored after Marian Hossa pounced on a boneheaded turnover by Clayton Stoner. Stoner, a physical defenseman with not much offensive skill, has been playing so poorly lately that it makes one wonder whether his last name is really his last name or if it is an apt description of his off-ice habits.
The Wild fell to 7th place in the conference, but they are still 5 points ahead of 9th place, so as long as they beat the Calgarys, Colorados, and Edmontons left on their schedule over the last 9 games, they will be in the playoffs. The phrase “just get in” is more applicable in the NHL playoffs than in any other sport, which means that once the Wild grab their playoff spot, there is plenty of reason to hope for a deep run.
Twins vs Kansas City: The best part of watching the Twins on mute is that one is spared the incoherent stammerings of Bert Blyleven. I like Bert overall, but baseball has far too many dead spaces to fill during a game. This creates the surreal situation where two guys carry on a boring conversation while a baseball game going on in the background is occasionally mentioned. But I digress.
Our wood-wielding warriors took the field and just two batters into the game the Twins were on the board. Joe Mauer, not known as a power hitter, took a pitch to the opposite field for a solo homer and an early 1-0 lead. After such an auspicious start I was feeling positive about their chances and this optimism even bled over to the Wild game as I listened simultaneously.
This positivity lasted about three minutes, as Mike Pelfrey appeared to have forgotten that a pitcher’s job is to actually get hitters out. Instead of instilling confidence that he would turn out to be a valuable addition to the Twins’ weak rotation by cruising through the first inning, Pelfrey gave up five runs as the Royals batted around. This one inning trip through the order was so painful to watch I nearly unmuted the TV so Blatherin’ Bert could distract me for a bit. Luckily I fought off this urge and continued to watch.
The Twins did battle back as they scored a run each of the next two innings, but they weren’t able to gain any ground as the Royals answered back with one of their own in each bottom of the inning. Pelfrey had lasted a paltry two innings, earning six runs in the process. However, Anthony Swarzak and Ryan Pressly provided yet another impressive bullpen performance for the Twins as they gave up only one run on five hits over the last six innings, keeping the Twins within striking distance.
Neither side created any offense (similar to what was happening in the Wild game) for the remainder of the contest, but the Twins did mount a threat in the ninth. Mauer stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two out. Instead of smashing a double to the gap that would certainly have driven in the fleet-footed Darin Mastroianni from first base, thereby tying the game, Mauer whiffed at strike three and the Twins once again lost to the lowly Royals.
My teams were 0 for 2 on the evening, and with the Timberwolves playing the playoff-bound Golden State Warriors on the road, 0 and 3 seemed a lock.
Timberwolves vs Golden State: Must…stay…awake. Despite not being able to shoot a basketball into the broadest section of the Grand Canyon without hitting the rim, the Timberwolves were only down one point at halftime. Ricky Rubio missed every shot he took and Derrick Williams was once again wholly ineffective, so even though the game was close, I was not expecting a win.
The third period started, the Wolves fell to pieces, and I went to bed. I awoke this morning to see that, yes, they did lose badly. I also saw that Rubio went 0 for 10 from the field while mega-bust Williams finished with five points, zero rebounds, zero assists, zero steals, and zero blocks in twenty minutes of play. I will give Little Ricky a pass, for the Wolves do not and should not rely on his shooting to be successful, but the steaming pile of a performance Williams dropped on the court is inexcusable. I used to fear that if the Wolves traded Williams for ten cents on the dollar he would blow up and become the star player a #2 overall pick should be. I no longer have that fear. I would trade him for a can of expired Pringles at this point. (If not sour cream-and-onion, then a 2nd round pick needs to be thrown in, however.)
So my night of hoped-for sports bliss turned into a five hour loser-a-thon. I’m not too worried about the Wild (yet) and am still high on their chances of winning two series in the playoffs. I’m also not concerned about the Twins, given they have a billion games left and low expectations anyway. As for the Wolves, they do suck, but they have some reliable pieces on the court (none of which are named Williams) and one huge piece still recovering from surgery, so I will wait until next season before I jettison all hope.
I guess I will just have to enjoy last night’s events for the anomaly they were. I mean, the chances that three Minnesota sports teams will all lose on the same night again are pretty slim, right? Right? (Nervous laughter.)