One of the great things about being a Minnesota sports fan is that there’s never a shortage of teams to follow and games to watch. In the midst of all the hubbub, there is a lot that often slips past the busy sports fan. It might be an obscure bit of news. Or maybe a bizarre occurrence that’s worth a second look. To help capture all the moments you might have missed, TC Huddle gives you T.W.I.M.S. Notes…a look back at the obscure news blotter from This Week In Minnesota Sports.
Bob Casey Would Be Proud: “There is Noooooooooo Smoking at Target Field”
Dating back to the mid 80’s, iconic public address announcer, Bob Casey, began every Twins game with his signature “there is noooooooooooo smoking at the Metrodome” call. As it turns out, he was way ahead of the times. Over the past decade, city after city has banned indoor smoking. And the anti-smoking movement has now permeated Target Field. Whereas smoking in designated areas has been allowed at Target Field in seasons past, this year will be different. Smoking is no longer just restricted to certain areas; it’s been banned entirely. “When wind was blowing in the right way, second-hand smoke would back into the main concourse, and it would even get up into the club level,” said Twins spokesman Kevin Smith. “That was very unpleasant.” As a result, the Twins have banned smoking everywhere, including all of Target Plaza and most of the surrounding sidewalks. But the bad news for smokers gets worse. Not only will they not be able to smoke, but can’t even leave the stadium for a quick smoke and then re-enter. “That’s not a smoking thing. That’s just our long-standing policy of having a no re-entry rule,” Smith said. The ban not only applies to Twins games, but also to other events–such as concerts and weddings–as well. …if only the Twins could promote the new rule by reviving Casey’s beloved pre-game announcement! “I think that would be a great idea, sort of nostalgia about the Dome,” said Target Field ballpark authority chairman Steve Cramer. To that end, don’t be surprised if you hear Casey bellowing over the loudspeaker this summer. It looks like it could be a real possibility.
Wolves’ Kevin Love Enjoys a Monster of a March
If you were curious to know just how good Kevin Love has been this season, consider this: He is only the third player in the past 20 NBA seasons to score 450 points and grab 200 rebounds in the same month. Amazingly, he has done that twice in the last three months, including March’s 491 points and 222 rebounds. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other players to have pulled that off in the last two decades were Shaquille O’Neal (who did it three times) and Patrick Ewing (who did it in January 1994). Granted, Love is playing a super-packed schedule this season – for example, his 17 games played in March exceeds the 16 that Ewing played in January of 1994 (and the 14 Ewing played in March of 1994). But the numbers are still staggering. How good are they? Had Love scored 31 points in the Wolves’ game against Boston last Friday (instead of the 22 he got), he would have broken O’Neal’s record for most points scored in a month over the past 15 seasons. That should put in perspective just how well he has been playing.
Quote of the Week: Former Gophers’ Hockey Coach Herb Brooks
Dan Brooks, son of legendary Minnesota hockey coach, Herb Brooks, was recently asked if he could recall any of his dad’s most famous pre-game speeches. One of the speeches he recalled was the one Herb gave before the 1980 Gold Medal game between the U.S. and Finland. The U.S. was coming off the 4-3 Miracle on Ice win over the U.S.S.R. in the semifinals, and was perfectly positioned for a classic let-down game. According to Dan, the one thing that stood out about his dad’s pre-game speech was the following admonition: “If you lose this game, you’ll take it to your F***ing graves. Your F***ing graves.” He couldn’t have said more with one sentence.
First Runner-Up Quote of the Week: Former Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett
Last Friday, Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics made their only appearance at Target Center for the 2011-12 season. After scoring 24 points en route to a 100-79 Celtics win, Garnett had the following to say: “I know [Target Center] very well and I’m very comfortable in this building. So I sort of reverted back to ’04, if you will. They say I’m an old man, huh? In basketball terms I am; in everyday life I’m just an everyday man.” He went on to say, “My time has passed; it’s Kevin Love’s time now. I understand that. But I am gracious of the applause of all the fans and very appreciative of the Twin Cities. I’ve always had a special place for all the people here, and they know that.” My man, Kevin Garnett…well said, even if he is getting a little senile in his old age.
Second Runner-Up Quote of the Week: Minnesota Gophers Hockey Player Taylor Matson
The Gophers men’s hockey team enjoyed quite a run in March, winning the WCHA title and advancing to the NCAA Frozen Four. A big part of that postseason run was a team bonding move in which all of the players dyed their hair blonde, while some of them grew beards. When asked about some of the younger teammates’ ability (or lack thereof) to grow a beard, captain Taylor Matson said, “There are younger guys coming right out of high school. They have peach fuzz going on. You can tell them from the senior class [because] we have good beards.” Ahhh…to be young again. Gone are the days of stunted hair growth, forever replaced by an endless stream of hair that grows at an ever-quickening pace. Enjoy the fuzz while you still can, boys.
Peterson Plans to Donate $1 Million to the University of…Oklahoma
During last week’s NIT championship game between Minnesota and Stanford, ESPN commentators touched briefly on the U of M’s need for a basketball practice facility. It was, I believe, Dan Dakich who chided the University for its failure to build a practice facility, citing other Big Ten schools that are light years ahead of Minnesota in the area of facilities. He went on to heap praise on what Tubby has accomplished at Minnesota despite the lack of facilities. Hearing the discussion on ESPN sparked a debate amongst me and my friends about what it would take to get it done. With cost estimates ranging from $15 to $20 million, the major hurdle seems to be fundraising – understandable considering the U’s recent construction of a football stadium and the state’s economic woes. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder where our successful basketball alumni were at…Flip Saunders, Trent Tucker, Kevin McHale and Kris Humphries, to name a few. Their contributions–along with those of our aging, millionaire boosters who loyally attend every home game at Williams Arena–could get things going in the right direction, right? And then I read this morning’s newspaper: Adrian Peterson was pledging $1 million to Oklahoma’s athletic department, the largest financial gift ever from a former Sooner football player. Maybe our alumni were tapped pretty heavily for the football stadium, or maybe they’re not as well situated financially as AP is. But wouldn’t it be nice to see construction on the McHale-Saunders Basketball Center break ground in 2013? Imagine that…Kevin and Flip reunited again. Heck, maybe Glen Taylor would feel left out and want to get in the mix as well!
Lesnar’s Loss Came at the Hands of Unacceptably High Levels of Testosterone
Former Gophers wrestler Brock Lesnar saw his UFC fighting career come to an end back in December of 2011 when he lost to Allistair Overeem in UFC 141. Actually, he didn’t just lose–he was pretty much destroyed. Allistair used a couple vicious knees to the body, followed by a devastating kick the ribs, to take advantage and end the fight at 2:26 of the first round. While the victory earned Allistair a shot at the title against heavyweight champ Junior Dos Santos, it looks like the opportunity might never materialize. That’s because Overeem recently failed a drug test in Nevada, testing “unacceptably high for testosterone”, according to Nevada Athletic Commission executive Keith Kizer. Pardon me if I’m behind the times a bit, but…what are unacceptably high levels of testosterone? Does the UFC allow testosterone levels to get increasingly higher up to a certain point before nipping them in the bud when they reach levels that are deemed unacceptably high? Let’ get some clarity on this. While Lesnar’s last gasp was less than he’d hoped for, at least he has the consolation of knowing that things might have been different if he’d been fighting against reasonable levels of testosterone…or even acceptably high levels of testosterone. What might have been…
Joe Buri is a former high school athletic director who currently works as an attorney in corporate America. In addition to writing for TC Huddle, he also volunteers as an assistant varsity basketball coach at a local Twin Cities high school. Once dubbed “The Human Stump,” he considers holding former NBA forward Devean George to 39 points a highlight of his collegiate basketball experience.