CATHY WURZER: All right, let’s see. Where should we start with sports, the Gemini season that started with a bang and ended with a thud, the Timberwolves and Wild in their preseasons, the Chipmunks licking their wounds after a meltdown against Purdue? Oh, so much to talk about. So little time.
Here are our sports guys, Wally and Eric. Wally Langfellow is the creator of Minnesota Score magazine and co-host of the sports show Ten Thousand Take. Eric is the other host of that show. And he’s the Vikings reporter for CBS Sports’ Eye on the NFL. Hey, I haven’t talked to you guys in a while. How are you?
WALLY LANGFELLOW: We’ve been here. You’re gone.
ERIC NELSON: I barely recognize your voice, Cathy.
CATHY WURZER: Yeah, and I barely recognize myself after the holidays. OK. Vikings, Wally, London was kind of interesting to watch. How are they?
WALLY LANGFELLOW: Well, I mean, they won the football game. And that’s the main thing. They went in there with a record of 2 and 1 against a team that was losing a lot of players, a lot of important players. This is the New Orleans Saints. And they won the game.
Oh, by the way, now they’re 3 and 0 in London, 2013, the Steelers game where Eric and I were, 2017 against the Cleveland Browns, and then the win last Sunday. So 3 and 1. The bad news is that safety Lewis Cine, the Vikings’ first-round draft pick, suffers a leg injury. He underwent surgery on Wednesday. He should be back in the Twin Cities now or soon.
Of course, the Vikings will be without him, I assume, for the rest of the season. They play the Chicago Bears at US Bank Stadium on Sunday. And it’s an important game, particularly for the Bears, because if the Vikings win, they go 4 and 1 for the season. And the bears drop to 2 and 3. So, very important game for both teams.
ERIC NELSON: Yeah, and Cathy, despite the Vikings’ quick start, the Purple Nation doesn’t look happy. I don’t think they’re drinking the purple Kool-Aid because there’s a lot of negativity out there in the Twitterverse, social media.
Yes, and his cornerback Chris Boyd took to the Twitterverse earlier this week and basically said fans should find another team to cheer or cheer on if they don’t appreciate these wins. And he had some colorful descriptions in his tweet that I won’t repeat here on the NPR airwaves.
But here’s the deal. I get it, Minnesota sports fans have an ego complex. All these teams provoke but rarely please. I mean, they’ve been let down and kicked in the stomach so many times, we can’t count that high. But now in the National Football League parody, the Vikings have the second best record. So I think you have to embrace that. A victory is a victory. You never throw one back. And the only loss Minnesota has is to Philadelphia. And the Eagles are the only perfect team right now in the NFL.
And by the way, Gregg Joseph is the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Joseph kicked five field goals in London, including the winner of the game over New Orleans. And how fitting that kickers were the main story there in the UK, which is a football-obsessed nation. So I’m sure they love Gregg Joseph over there.
CATHY WURZER: Looks like they had a lot of fun too. Now, remember you, I was talking about how worried I was about the Twins, even when they were number one. And I kept saying, well, I don’t know. I don’t know. And look what happened. Look what happened, Wally.
WALLY LANGFELLOW: Yeah, they finish in third place. The season was really a big disappointment as they were number one for over 100 days. So Cleveland wins the division. But the twins took first place for 101 days this summer. And yet they finish third behind Chicago and behind Cleveland. And Cleveland really wins by walking away.
Obviously, there will be changes in the off-season. What changes need to be made? What changes must be made? Those are the questions. They had a ton of injuries. But I still think – and Eric and I talked about this – what’s the cause of all these injuries?
Is it because they keep their players in bubble wrap, so to speak? They pamper. They have rooms for naps. They have days off. I mean, you don’t get that on champion teams. You really don’t know. And the Twins, they got hurt this year. There’s no doubt. But what is the root cause of all these injuries?
Good news, Luis Arraez, batting champion. Despite the fact that he was injured, he actually played and denied Aaron Judge the Triple Crown. Now, he obviously hasn’t denied his 62nd home run, which came Tuesday night. But the fact that he’s able to win a batting title on this team is good news because they have something to look forward to. They have a guy in Luis Arraez that I think will be here and help them for a long time.
CATHY WURZER: See, Eric, I wonder here. May I ask about Rocco Baldelli, the manager?
CATHY WURZER: There was so much stomach ache about him. He’s so focused on metrics and that more technical stuff. What role does he play in all this?
ERIC NELSON: Well, he’s the manager. And he’s the one who writes the squad card. But the guys above him at the front desk, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, most people believe Rocco is his puppet. And they tell him what to do. And he’s literally stuck with analytics, which is basically the computer, laptop, surface, or tablet, whatever they’re using these days.
And I know from talking to a lot of ex-twins, some old school, some who haven’t been out of the game for so long, they can’t take it. And I think it’s a shutdown for the fans. You need to manage right now. You need to go with your gut. There were situations where the Twins pitcher had a no-hitter like Joe Ryan. And he is pulled in the seventh entry.
There have been other instances where a guy was navigating through five or six entries. But Rocco’s computer tells him he can’t face the lineup the third time around because analysts say they might catch him. And I think people can’t stand that.
They need to become a team that embraces grinding. They need to play with some injuries. As Wally said, they had a ton, 32 guys on the injured list, the most in the league this season. And I just told myself, Cathy, breaking news, they’re not playing Target Field next year. They’re playing at the Mayo Clinic.
CATHY WURZER: Yeah, I know. Thank you, Eric. Let’s move on to Nature, shall we, Wally?
WALLY LANGFELLOW: Yeah, they host Chicago in a preseason game tonight. Oh, by the way, they played last weekend in Milwaukee, the first ever NHL game at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. Milwaukee–
WALLY LANGFELLOW: — they never had an NHL team. They have the Milwaukee Admirals, a minor league team. But they sold. So that was fun for the folks there. And apparently most of the people that were there based on ticket sales calculations by tracking their zip codes from whoever bought the tickets, most of the people were from Wisconsin. So this is good news. And maybe they’ll raise an NHL flag in Milwaukee someday.
But the Wild, as I said, hosts Chicago tonight. And a week from now, they will open the regular season on Thursday, October 13th at home against the New York Rangers. So, the disco drop is just around the corner.
CATHY WURZER: Yes, it is. And there are also, of course, parks and footballs still, Eric, to talk to the Loons.
ERIC NELSON: Yes, the marathon season known as Major League Soccer will end this weekend, the regular season. Then the playoffs will start a few days later. And yes, Minnesota United will host Vancouver on the field Sunday at Allianz Field in Saint Paul.
And Minn U is trying to qualify for the MLS playoffs. Right now, the Loons are seed number seven. That would put you. They have 45 points. But they are in a scrum with some other teams. They have only one point advantage over Real Salt Lake. So Minnesota United really needs to take care of business and get into the playoffs.
If they lose, the Loons could be out. And by the way, they’re limping in this home stretch. Minnesota United are without a win in their last six games. So it’s been a yo-yo year, up, down, up, down, for Minn U. But they don’t have much room for error now.
CATHY WURZER: All right. OK people. I have to go. Hope you have a nice weekend.
ERIC NELSON: Thank you, Cathy. You too.
CATHY WURZER: These are Wally Langfellow and Eric Nelson. Wally is the founder of Minnesota Score magazine and co-host of the sports talk show Ten Thousand Takes. Eric is the other host of that show and a reporter for the Minnesota Vikings for CBS Sports Radio’s Eye on the NFL.