Yesterday the Twins made a monumental signing. They signed Miguel Angel Sano from the Dominican Republic for a $3.15 million signing bonus. The 2nd largest bonus ever given to a Dominican amateur. He was considered one of the best 2 Dominican free agents this year. He is projected to have all five tools. He is currently a shortstop but as he grows he is expected to be moved to 3b or OF. THIS is a BIG deal! The Twins spending money on premium talent is a big deal. They don't normally spend the money. Sano's bonus was the 2nd highest the club has given, next to Joe Mauer's $5.15 million as a #1 pick in 2001 amateur draft. The bonus blows away the Twins previous high for an international free agent of $775,000 bonus. This was given to Max Kepler, Europe's #1 free agent, just this year. There is still a little bit of legal concern over his age but, if Sano is not 16 as he suggests he is, he will not get a Visa to come to work in America. The deal will be null.
What does it mean for the the Twins future?
Sano won't be with the Twins until at least 2013 and probably not until a year or two later, but should be considered one of their top 5 prospects right now.
Sano's signing makes for 3 great signings by the Twins this year. The top Latin player, the top European player, and Kyle Gibson, a top 10 projected player in the June draft that fell to 22 due to injury. Gibson also should be considered a top 10 and probably 5 prospect right now.
The spending spree could be due to a change of corporate philosophy by the Twins. Maybe the younger Pohlad's want to win more than their father. Maybe the team is merely following through with promises of more spending with the new stadium.
If you are a Twins fan, the amateur signings the Twins have made this year should excite you. The money the team spent should ease your mind when you think about Joe Mauer's looming free agency.
The Twins prospects were generally ranked in the 22-24 range this past year out of 30 major league teams. How do you think the signings affect their overall status next year?
Here is my first top ten prospect list with their age, position, and expected level in 2010 as well as when they project to reach Minnesota.
1. Angel Morales OF 20 years A Fort Myers MLB debut 2012
2.Wilson Ramos C 22 years AAA Rochester MLB debut 2011(2010 if he were traded post Mauer extension)
3. Aaron Hicks CF 20 years A Beloit MLB debut 2013
4. Miguel Angel Sano SS/3B/OF 17 years Rookie Gulf Coast League Twins debut 2014
5. Kyle Gibson RHP 22 years A Beloit MLB debut 2012
6. Danny Valencia 3B 25 years old AAA Rochester MLB debut 2010
7. Ben Revere OF 22 years old AA New Britain MLB debut 2012
8. Jeff Manship RHP 24 years old AAA Rochester MLB 2009
9. Rene Tosoni OF 23 years old AAA Rochester MLB debut 2010
10. David Bromberg RHP 22 years old AA New Britain MLB debut 2011
let me know what you think! Rip me to shreds, whatever, feedback is good.
Instead of a new blog I will just re-post this one! Place tonight's game immediately in my favorite 9.
The Twins are 2 out with 7 games to go. A pivotal 4 game series against 1st place Detroit starts tomorrow. There is great potential to improve on some of my Twins memories, but for now I will just post some of my current favorite Twins memories. Many posts lamenting the Metrodome's demise have appeared all over the map. I was going to do a Metrodome memories post but instead will just do a couple of Twins memories posts. My earliest memories of the Twins are from their first couple years in the dome anyway. Why focus on just dome memories I say? Lets focus on my 10 favorite Twins memories instead.
I went negative a couple days ago and I am happy to go positive today:
10.) Twins vs. Angels 1984:
OK, a July 28, 1984 victory over the California Angels may not resonate with most folks. The details of the game resonate little with me. The Twins won 6-1. Frank Viola went all 9, giving up 1 run on 3 hits and 5 walks. The Twins improved 51-49. I don't remember any of these details. What I do remember is that this was my first ever major league game. No sitting next to my dad, mickey hit one out stories, but.... a good time. This was my first trip to a city, and I was in awe of the size of the buildings. One problem with my first game was I had a broken ankle and was hobbling around. I was also 11 years old and I drank alot of soda. We sat in the left field stands of the dome near the field and I remember hobbling up and down the steps to pee alot. I also remember how cool it was to be there and how much fun it was to play in the stands, I missed getting a home run ball because I could not move fast enough. I remember the Twins won and were in the pennant race. They only missed the playoffs by 3 games in a weak division. I had been an Atlanta Braves fan(due to the super-station access and Dale Murphy) and this game moved me towards the Twins.
9.) The Twins sweep the Sox:
September 25, 2008. The Twins came into the series down 2 games to the White Sox with 6 games to go. After winning the first 2 games the teams were even with 4 to go. The game did not start well and after the top of the 4th inning the Twins were down 6-1. The Twins got 2 runs in the bottom of the 4th, another in the 6th and 2 more runs in the 8th to tie the game. In the bottom of the 10th, with Nick Punto on 3rd and Denard Span on 1st and 2 outs,Alexi Casilla stepped to the plate. With a little flair hit into right/center the game was over, the Twins were in first, the team went crazy. In the end the Twins would lose game 163 but as of 159 the team was on top of the division.
Tonights game!!!!!!!!!! October 6, 2009!!!!
8.) ALCS 1987 clincher:
October 12, 1987. The Twins beat Detroit 9-5 in Detroit. The Twins won the ALCS 4 games to 1 over heavily favored Detroit to go to the World Series. The coolest thing was the reception the team got. The airport was flooded with people waiting for the team. The team decided to go to the Metrodome to greet the fans. The team expected 3000-10000 fans but the place was packed. 50000+! You ask players on the 87 Twins their greatest memory of that season and most of them mention the reception the team received after the Detroit series.
7.) Torii Hunter Crushes Jamie Burke:
July 26, 2004. The Twins went to Chicago with a .5 game lead over the White Sox. Torii Hunter wanted to send a message. "My instincts took over. I had to do what I had to do to touch home plate," Hunter said after crushing Burke on a home plate collision in the 8th, giving the Twins a 5-1 lead. Hunter may have been able to slide around him but the hit pretty much served notice to the Sox that the Twins were ready to fight and the Sox essentially folded the tent in the game, losing 6-2. The Twins swept the series. The Twins went into the game with a .5 lead and won the division by 8.5 games over the White Sox. The hit of Jamie Burke may have been the play that spring boarded the Twins to the title and knocked the Sox out.
6.) Hrbek's GS:
October 24, 1987. Game 6 of the World Series. The Twins returned home from St. Louis down 3 games to 2 and facing elimination. The Twins were leading 6-5 going to the bottom of the 6th inning. With the bases loaded and 2 outs lefty Ken Dayley was brought in to face Bloomington's own Kent Hrbek. Hrbek had been slumping in the World Series and wasn't strong against lefties. Hrbek broke out of the slump big time, hitting a Grand Slam to break open the game 10-5. This would become the signature moment of an otherwise nondescript World Series.(except for the fact it was Minnesota's first Championship since the Lakers left)
5.)last day 2006:
October 1, 2006. The Twins started the 2006 season slow following Kirby Puckett's death and on June 8 at 25-33 and they looked dead. Then the season turned around. Justin Morneau got hot and his play jump started the rest of the team. The Twins had a great summer. Johan Santana and rookie Francisco Liriano pitched lights out. Joe Mauer kept hitting. The "little piranha's" kept biting away and the team smelled RBIs. It was an amazing run. The team won a 10th inning game 159 to tie for first place for the first time all season. After losing 2 to the White Sox the Twins won their last game 5-1 to end the season on a 71-33 run. They ended the season 96-66 and were going to the playoffs. It was a sweet comeback and my favorite regular season. With Detroit still playing their game, at 95-66 and with a tie-breaker over the Twins, there was uncertainty whether the Twins would be a wild card and going to New York or staying at home to play Oakland. Watching on TV, you could see the whole crowd was still in the dome. They were showing the Detroit/Kansas City game on the big screen and the players were watching in the dugout and on TV in the clubhouse. The Royals finished off the Tigers in extra innings 10-8 and the dome erupted. It was one of the coolest scenes I have ever seen in baseball. The players came back to the field and celebrated with the fans. The first time the Twins were in first place all season was an hour after they'd finished playing their last game. Perfect cap to my favorite regular season
4.) AJ's HR:
October 6, 2002. The Twins had just capped off a magical season following a threat of being contracted. They went 94-67 to win the A.L. Central. Their first playoff birth since winning the 1991 World Series. Facing an Oakland A's team that went 103-59 and was in the playoffs for the third straight year. The Twins were big underdogs. The Twins won game 4 11-2 to pull even in the series and set up a winner take all Game 5. The game was a great pitchers duel. In the top of the 9th clinging to a 2-1 lead, the Twins put 2 men on for A.J. Pierzynski. A.J. Hit a 3 run HR. I watched in a TV room at a sports bar in Richmond, VA. I was all alone in the room(the other room was full of people watching Sunday football) running around in circles, screaming, wishing i had someone to drink with. Of course with a 5-1 lead, Minnesota's closer Everyday Eddie Guardado had room for error but he wouldn't let the team off the hook without a little drama. Eddie had 44 saves during the season but turned every save situation into an adventure. Eddie gave up a 3 run HR to Mark Ellis. After letting another man on with 2 outs, he finally coaxed a foul out in Oakland's spansive foul territory(Where have i heard about Oakland's foul territory?) FINALLY ending the game. I don't recall a more important 3 run HR or 4 run lead in Twins history. The Twins won. They lost to the Angels in the next round but, the 2002 Twins provided their fans the first and only playoff series victory since 1991.
3.) Johan Santana wins the 2004 Cy Young:
Johan Santana was picked up by trade from the Florida Marlins after Florida had selected him up in the Rule 5 Draft from the Houston Astros. Johan was kept on the 2000 Twins roster the entire season. He would have had to have been offered back to the Astros if he had been sent to the minors. As a long reliever, Johan had a terrible year but the Twins were a bad team in 2000. They could afford to keep a young man with a promising future on the roster. In 2001 the Twins were able to send Johan to the minor leagues and he spent most of 2001 and some of 2002 in AA and AAA learning the change-up from Bobby Cueller. By 2003 he was moved into the starting rotation for good. He won his last 8 decisions and started Game 1 of the ALDS against the Yankees. He finished the year 12-3 with a 3.07 ERA. In 2004, Johan was anointed the #2 starter behind Brad Radke. He started slowly going 6-6 then turned it on in June. His numbers the rest of the season where out of this world. He became the first pitcher since 1961 to give up four or fewer hits in ten straight starts, and his 13-0 record broke the old Major League second-half mark. Some more numbers: 11.13 K/9 innings, 1.21 ERA, 4.74 hits/9. In addition, Santana set a team season record with 265 strikeouts, surpassing the old 258 mark registered by Bert Blyleven in 1973.Santana finished 20-6, led the American League in strikeouts (265), ERA (2.61), strikeouts per nine innings pitched (10.46), WHIP (0.92), batting average allowed (.192), and OPS (.564). Opponents stole just six bases in seven attempts against him. He easily won the AL Cy Young Award over Curt Schilling. Johan was now the best pitcher in baseball. The Twins home attendance increased by 5000 the days he pitched. He was a star. The Twins hadn't had a star since Kirby Puckett. He would go on to win the Cy Young in 2006 as well and should have won in 2005. It was great watching him develop, too bad he did not stay.
1b.)....And We'll See Ya..Tomorrow Night
October 26, 1991. These two are well known and easy so I won't bore with alot of details. The Twins down 3 games to 2 needed to win two games at home. Kirby Puckett made a great catch on the Plexiglas wall in left-center early in the game. The game went into the 11th inning tied 3-3. Kirby Puckett had said before the game that he was putting the team on his back. He told Chili Davis he was going to take a couple pitches and when Leibrandt threw his change-up, he'd hit it out. Kirby saying he'd take pitches was worth a chuckle. On the 4th pitch, a change-up, Kirby hit it over the left center field wall and in one of the great HR calls of all time Jack Buck merely said.... Into left center for Mitchell....And We'll See Ya, Tomorrow Night.
1a.) The Twins are going to win the World Series:
Tomorrow Night.... October 27, 1991. Jack Morris vs. John Smoltz. The pitcher of the 80s vs. the budding superstar. Winner takes all. One of the coolest moments I have ever seen in sports was catcher Brian Harper shaking hands with lead-off hitter Lonnie Smith. That's how great the series was. Both pitchers were great. Morris got in and out of trouble all night. He pitched 10 shutout innings, successfully convincing manager Tom Kelly to let him stay in the game more than once. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th and 1 out, Kelly had Gene Larkin, bad knee and all, pinch hit. With the outfield playing in, Larkin needed to hit the ball far enough to get passed the drawn in outfield. Larkin hit the ball to the warning track and... "The Twins are going to win the World Series! The Twins have won it! It's a base hit, it's a one-nothing, tenth inning victory!" -Jack Buck. Afterwards, a few of us ran the mile from our dorm to downtown Minneapolis to join the party. I was 18 and it is still probably the coolest experience of my life. We partied with over 100,000 people.
Shawn.....from my home, on the road in Binghamton, NY
Well, I haven't posted much since starting out..... focusing on other things, but I digress.
With it being an off day. I figured I'd focus on something other than the 2009 Twins coming down the stretch.
Many posts lamenting the Metrodome's demise have appeared all over the map. I was going to do a Metrodome memories post but instead will just do a couple of Twins memories posts. My earliest memories of the Twins are from their first couple years in the dome any. Why focus on just dome memories I say? Many good and bad things have happened in the dome as well as away. Since it is my blog I will focus on my 10 least favorite and my 10 favorite Twins memories.
Lets go negative today and positive tomorrow:
A couple honorable mention games I attended:
7-7-2008: Brian Bass brought into a 0-0 game in Boston and then Gardenhire not INT walking Manny Ramirez. I predicted Gardy's questionable moves and then watched them fail in person.
5-16-2009: A-rod walk-off in the bottom of the 11th.
10.)Knoblauch to the Yankees:
After campaigning to be traded near the 1996 and 1997 trade deadline, Knoblauch finally got his wish after the 1997 season. While the trade worked out well for the Twins, netting the team Eric Milton and Christian Guzman it represented the last player of the 1991 World Series team was gone.
As a light hitting all defense middle infielder, Nick had been a valuable contributor in 2006. He was given a 2 year 4.2 million dollar extension. In 2007 he posted the lowest slugging percentage (.271) of any major league player with at least 200 at-bats in a single season. This was the lowest slugging percentage by a player with over 400 at-bats since José Lind recorded a .269 slugging percentage for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1992. Punto also posted a -27.1 VORP in 2007, 8.5 runs worse than the second-worst position player in baseball. 2008 he posted a .284 batting average. This garnered a 2 year 8.5 million dollar extension? A couple versatile utility infielders are necessary for a team. However, locking a man up for 2 years who only produces near replacement level in a contract season shows a deficiency in the franchise's player evaluation. If the manager/management likes a player, they will be signed whether useful or not. Earmarking 8.5 million that could have been spent on a reliever or saved for a Mauer extension has held the team back and may cost it a division championship in 2009.
The Twins slogged through alot of bad seasons from 1993-2000. In 2001 the Twins finished 85-77, their first winning season since 1992, and they looked to be on their way to future success. MLB was having money problems and planned to contract the Minnesota Twins and Montreal Expos and disperse the players around the league. Fortunately, a court order ended the threat for the time being and the Twins made the playoffs in 2002. Contraction was shelved after the season and baseball has since been more profitable. The Twins made the playoffs 4 times between 2002-2006 but my favorite team came too close to being wiped from the league.
7.) Bruno for Tommy Herr?
After winning the World Series in 1987 the Twins made a trade with, their counterparts from the World Series, St Louis early in the 1988 season. Apparently Tom Kelly wanted more defense, battles his tail off like players and less mashers. This philosophy led the team to not have a single 30 HR guy again until 2006. Bruno was not a star but a decent player with power. He was an all star in 1985. Bruno had a .773 OPS with St Louis in 1988 and was reasonably productive until retiring in 1994. Herr on the other hand had a .665 OPS in 86 games in1988, his only season with the Twins. The 1988 Twins actually had 6 more wins than the World Series champion 87 team. While this one trade probably didn't make the difference between making the playoffs and not(Oakland won the division with 104 wins), it was a bad trade overall and represented a change of philosophy that may have help contribute to the drought from 1993-2000. Mostly though, the team traded a player I liked for a guy who cried on the plane coming to Minnesota.
6.) Adam Kennedy?
ALCS Game 5 October 13, 2002. The Twins gutted through the ALDS 3 games to 2 but the ALCS was not going well. After winning game 1, they lost 3 straight and were on the brink of elimination. The Twins were leading 2-0 in the bottom of the 3rd inning when Adam Kennedy, the #9 hitter, come up and hits a HR. He'd only hit 7 during the season. In the 5th inning, with the game tied 2-2, Kennedy hits another HR giving the Angels a 3-2 lead. The Twins managed to scrape together some runs and had a 5-3 lead in the 7th. With 2 men on base Kennedy does it again! ugh. The Angels led 6-5 on the way to 13-5 win. The Angels took the series and would win the world series in 7 games. With his three home runs, Kennedy joined only four other players who hit three homers in a post-season game: Babe Ruth, Bob Robertson, Reggie Jackson and George Brett. Kennedy's performance helped the Angels clinch the American League pennant, and Kennedy was named the series' Most Valuable Player. I still hate that jackass.
5.) Torii Hunter's gamble:
October 4, 2006. The Twins started 2006 25-33 and looked dead. Then went on an amazing run. going 71-33 afterwards. They went into the first round matchup against Oakland as heavy favorites. They had an MVP in Justin Morneau, a Cy Young winner in Johan Santana, and a batting champ in Joe Mauer. After losing a tough Game 1 3-2, the team was hoping to even the series. The Twins were down 2-0 in the 6th when they got back to back HR from Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau. In the top of 7th inning with 2 outs and a man on first, Mark Kotsay hits a looping line drive in front of Torii Hunter. The same Torii Hunter who punched team-mates, screamed at AAA beat writers and has generally been highly regarded around the game as a leader, but really is kind of an ass hole. The smart move would have been to let the ball land in front of him which would put a man on 1st and probably 3rd with 2 outs. Instead Hunter dives for the ball and does not catch it. The ball skips behind him all the way to the wall. Inside the park HR. Twins down 4-2. This play took the life out of the team. They'd lose 5-2 and they'd lose game 3 8-3. Season done.
4.) Santana traded:
On February 1, 2008 Johan Santana was traded to the Mets for Carlos Gomez, Kevin Mulvey, Phillip Humber, Deolis Guerra. He then signed a 6 year 137.5 million dollar contract. Not only was Santana in his prime, and had just won a Cy Young in 2004 and 2006, he was and is still my favorite current player. While the jury is still out on what the Twins received, the trade doesn't look good so far. Humber is a AAAA pitcher who will probably be in a new organization next year, Mulvey has been traded, Gomez is still learning to hit, and Guerra is still 2+ years away and his prospect has dimmed a bit. The worst thing about this trade was the team's inability to bring back their best player. The Twins have lost many good players over the years but had almost always managed to keep their corner stones.
3.) Game 2 ALDS 2004:
October 6, 2004. Johan Santana took game 1 2-0. If the Twins could win game 2 they could put a 2-0 series stranglehold on the Yankees heading home. This is a game I attended at Yankees Stadium. It was a great game. The Yankees were leading 5-3 in the top of the 8th inning. There was 1 out and the Twins had a man on 1st and 2nd. The Yankees decided bring in the great Mariano Rivera. Justin Morneau hit a single and Corey Koskie a double leading to a rare blown save for Rivera and a 5-5 game. Off to the 12th. With 2 outs Torii Hunter hit a go ahead HR, Twins lead 6-5. My Yankees fan buddy wanted to leave. He was pissed. He had the car, we left. The Twins got 2 more men on as we walked out of the Stadium but they did not score. I was happy with the lead but realistic. Joe Nathan had gone 2 innings already. He wasn't used to that workload. The only other reliable reliever late in 2004 was Juan Rincon and he had been used. I knew Gardy no longer trusted JC Romero and would try Nathan for a 3rd inning. I was hopeful but not realistic. Nathan got the first out, then walk, walk, double, run scored, intentional walk and he was more than done at 56 pitches. Romero comes in and gives up a sac fly. 7-6 Ball game over!! Yankees Win, Thu u u u u Yankeeees WIN!!!! The Twins blew their chance. They lost game 3 and game 4(another great game). We know what happens next. Yankees go up 3-0 on the Red Sox, then the Sox stage the greatest comeback in baseball history beating the Yankees 4 games to 3. Then they swept the World Series. The first time in 86 years. Bla Bla Bla, we're happy for them. I always wonder how the story would have gone if the Twins had one more dependable reliever.
2.) Eric Fox
Eric Fox made his major league debut for the Oakland A's July 7, 1992 as a 28 year old. He had 5 total HR's in 258 total MLB at bats. His biggest? straight from Wikipedia: "Fox's career highlight may have come on July 29, 1992, when Fox hit a game winning 3 run home run against the Minnesota Twins. That win put the A's into a first place tie with the Twins and catapulted them towards the division title that season while the Twins finished in 2nd place, 6 games back of the A's. Many Twins fan blame that game and his home run towards the downfall of the franchise through the rest of the 1990s, only one year removed from winning the World Series in 1991." Nothing I can write does more justice.
On March 28, 1996, Kirby Puckett woke up without vision in his right eye. He was diagnosed with glaucoma, and was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his professional career. Several surgeries over the next few months could not restore vision in the eye; Puckett never played professional baseball again. He'd been hit by a pitch at the end of 1995 but was having a great spring training.
The Twins are 5 1/2 games out with 19 games to go. While larger leads have been made up this late such as the Phillies making up 7 games with 17 to go in 2007, The Twins aren't going to the playoffs. The Twins have a big off season ahead. They have a mess waiting for them on the 40 man roster. TradingPino and Mulvey has helped but there are a lot of decisions to make.
Alex Burnett Deolis Guerra
This leaves the team with 30 of 40 and a lot of decisions to make.
Moves I would make:
I'd re-sign Carl Pavano to a 1 or 2 year deal at decent money and some incentives, say 1 year 4 million plus incentives.(if he becomes a type 2 free agent I'd offer arbitration, he either takes that or the team gets a sandwich pick)
I'd dangle BoofBonser if anyone would offer anything decent for him I'd pull the trigger, otherwise I'd keep him, at least through spring training.
I'd trade Glen Perkins.... the team has soured on him as he has with them. Might be looked better upon by other teams.
I'd trade Delmon Young and make Carlos Gomez the every day CF. If blown away by an offer for Micheal Cuddyer or Gomez and change the thoughts.
Assuming Pavano and Bonser stay makes 32.
Players to remove from the roster:
Drop Bobby Keppel.
Drop Drew Butera from 40 man, good Defense doesn't offset no bat.
Drop Brian Buscher from 40 man, no bat no defense.
Drop Matt Tolbert from 40 man.
Drop Jason Pridie from 40 man.
Drop Deibinson Romero from 40 man.
Let Orlando Cabrera go.
Offer Mike Redmond a job with the organization or shake his hand and let him go.
Cut or trade Nick Punto for whatever you can get, even eating salary.
I'd love to resign Joe Crede in case Valencia is not ready, but given injuries, Boras, and all the players the Twins need to try to get on the 40 man, he has to be let go.
Other Players to consider for 8 spots:
I'd add Rene Tosoni for outfield depth
I'd consider Ron Mahay for another year?
I'd Resign 1 of Justin Huber, Brock Peterson, and Eric Lis put on 40 man
Keep or Drop Luke Hughes from the 40 man?
Add Brian Dinkleman?
Add Loek Van Mil?
Add Juan Morillo or lose him?
Do the Twins need room for any other free agent signings?
There are many more that the Twins need to add or risk losing to Rule 5 or Rule 5 Minor League draft including the following:
Allan De San Miguel
As you can see there is a mess waiting for the Twins. Do they not move their players through the system quick enough? Are many of these players average at best? Packaging some of these players in 2 for 1 trades would help as well.
Let me know what you think? Did I miss anyone? Did I miss something regarding the eligible players.
Well, the Minnesota Gophers open their new outdoor stadium next Saturday..... so where did I see them? In a dome of course. Minnesota came to the Carrier Dome at Syracuse University Saturday to take on the Syracuse Orange. As with any opening game, there was a lot of excitement and uncertainty going into a new season. The Gophers are coming off a 7-6 season where they lost their last 6. A good start against an assumed inferior team would be just what the doctor ordered. Syracuse, 3-9 in the previous year, has a new coach as well as a new QB. Prodigal son Greg Paulus, fresh off a four year stint as a Duke point guard, returns to make his first start as a college QB.
There was a large push in the area to sell tickets, and it worked, selling 48,617 for this game. A very big crowd for Syracuse and a very Orange crowd. The Minnesota contingent was around 25 sprinkled throughout the stadium. A new on campus facility is much more of a draw than a road game in an un-air conditioned dome.
The Gophers started fast. Syracuse first snap sailed over Paulus's head. This led to a TD on a Duane Bennett 16 yard run. The Cuse kicked a field goal and then Minnesota scored again on a Troy Stoudermire 7 yard reception from Adam Weber.
....then the wheels fell off. Syracuse started running plays in the spread offense and the Gophers defense showed it was just as deficientagainst the spread as they were in 2008. Syracuse racked up 3 drives of 6, 8, and 8 plays for a TD, FG, and a TD and 164 yards. Minnesota's offense went quiet for the remainder of the first half. With 1:39 to go starting at their own 17 the offense ended in a thud when Tim Brewster essentially decided to run out the clock and go into the locker room down 20-14.
Whatever the defensive coaches said at the half must have worked as the D only gave up 38 yards the rest of the day. Unfortunetly, Adam Weber was still having problems throwing the ball. Weber, a 3 year starter at QB, should have come into the game with a lot of confidence. The offense returns almost every starter and he still had Eric Decker, an All American type wide receiver, to sling the ball to. I don't know if it was the crowd noise(It was quite loud at times causing some false starts) or rust but Weber was off most of the day. Through 3 quarters Weber was 9-24 1 TD and 1 INT.
Beginning the 4th quarter down 17-20 Weber started to come alive, hitting a long pass to Decker, before fumbling the ball away as the offense kept shooting itself in the foot. The feeling from a severly jaded Orange fanbase however,(who have had it much worse than the Gophers the last few years) was that it was only a matter of time before they'd blow it.
With 3:48 the Gophers got the ball on their own 12. Due or die time. The offense stepped up, marching the ball down the field. Weber looked great. He went 5-6 for 62 yards on the drive getting down to 3rd and 4 on the Syracuse 9 with just over a minute to go. At this point Tim Brewster calls a timeout. Brewster has shown that he is a decent recruiter and can he can talk a really good game but his timeout management needs some serious improvement. In the first half, he blew through 2 timeouts right away. Then he challanged a tough to call spot of the ball and lost his last timeout early in the second quarter. Now he is calls a timeout in field goal range. He saves Syracuse clock time score. Anyway, the 3rd and 4 pass was incomplete. Eric Ellested hits the 26 yard field goal and the game is tied 20-20. Fortunetly the Orange take a play out of Brewster's playbook and run out the clock.
Overtime came, MN won the toss and elected defense. The entire dome assumed the worst and Syracuse delivered. Paulus threw the ball right to Nathan Triplett in the end zone putting an unfortunate cap to a decent homecoming. He went 19-31 with 167 yards and a TD and that costly interception. He looked poised and polished most of the game and he has a chance to deliver Syracuse a good season on the gridiron, before he joins Jim Boeheim's bench as a grad assistant during basketball season. The Gophers, knowing they only needed a field goal to win on their position ran 3 times for 7 yards and sealed the comeback with an Ellested 35 yard FG.
It was enjoyable seeing the Gophers in action, albeit in a hot dome as opposed to a brand new outdoor stadium. The Syracuse fans were great to myself and my son. Eric Decker had a great game with 9 catches and 183 yards. He was rarely double covered and Weber should use him more if he is single covered in the future. Hopefully Weber can improve on his performance, the defense can carry this performance over against tougher opponents, and Brewster can improve his in-game management. These things happen and Minnesota could surprise some teams this year.
I did it. I am blogging. This will be the first of i hope many entries. I will dispense with a few pleasantries. My name is Shawn Berg and I am a Minnesota native living in upstate New York. The purpose of this blog is to share mostly MN Twins content. I will however post about other Minnesota sports as well as sports in general, music, outdoors, wine and beer, and anything else that tickles my fancy. Hopefully, If you have led yourself here you will check back from time to time as I hope to have regular posts and regular readers. I will post my thoughts of attending University of Minnesota at Syracuse tomorrow. For now I leave you with a guest post I wrote on the tenth inning stretch @ http://tenthinningstretch.blogspot.com/2009/08/guest-post-new-britain-comes-to.html . I encourage you to check out the tenth inning stretch as well, it is filled with well researched Twins content(much more researched than you will find here :)). I look forward to writing, hopefully you look forward to reading.
This blog will from here on out be written in honor of my friends Paul Hemmingsen (August 13, 1972 - October 10, 2009) & Bob O'Neill (September 25, 1975 - December 12, 2011) Two great friends, gone too soon!
The blog name "On the Road with Shawn" is in reference to playing games on the road. I am a Twins fan that travels a lot and no longer lives in Minnesota. The name seemed appropriate. The blog posts focus on game adventures (usually road games), Minnesota Twins content and other baseball content. Many posts are stat driven, others are lighter. My hope is to bring a fresh voice to Twins territory.