The Twins are 9-18 in last place in the American League Central, losers of six straight as of May 2. They are a complete mess: The Vikings are locked out again after drafting a quarterback, number-one Florida State’s Christian Ponder, with the 12th pick.
Boy, it’s been a rough stretch after a 45-day NFL owner lockout of the league’s veteran players. It ends just in time for the 2011 NFL Draft of rookies to be legal for two days — thanks to U.S Judge Susan Richard Nelson — but after the second day of the draft, here we go again: back in lockout, but for how long? I refuse to talk NFL football when 32 billionaires insult me by locking out the players to steal another billion from them. Yet they conduct a draft, as if life is good, of 224 players who have nowhere to go and no idea what to do. It all started with Tubby Smith’s Gophers collapsing and losing six straight and 11 of their last 12 games. No NCAA, no NIT, no nothing. Same thing for Gopher hockey: University of Minnesota-Duluth is the NCAA Champion, while the Wild did nothing but tease their fans last year and then fell on their faces and lost eight straight. Game, set, match: They dump head coach Todd Richards — it’s his fault, right?
The Timberwolves are the NBA’s worst team at 17-65. They played no defense all year. It’s May, and it feels like October around here. The Twins are hurting: Jim Thome, Joe Mauer, Delmon Young, Tsuyoshi Nishioka — all missing in action. Let me see: Gophers, Twins, Timberwolves, Vikings, Wild — all losers, either dead last or close with no hope in sight. Somebody wake me when this nightmare is over. It’s tough on the media, too, especially when you been at this as long as I have. And you have a positive approach as I have. I’m not about to start lying to you, fans. Help! Minnesota needs a sports team that can compete — that means giving you your money’s worth. What we’ve seen from the Twins is a team with no leadership.
Right now, with 32 NFL owners dictating that they can play mind games on the American public and its players, I have to ask myself and you: Where do we go from here? Fitz Notes & Quotes The Timberwolves and General Manager David Kahn appear to have an inflated view of what the team accomplished in 2010-11. Fact is the team won just 17 games and lost 65 — that was the NBA’s worst record. In 2009-10 the Timberwolves were 15-67; that’s 32 wins in two years for Head Coach Kurt Rambis and his staff. A consensus has developed that Rambis will not be brought back for the 2011-12 season. Does it really matter? The team allowed the most points per game, an average of 107, in the NBA. They were awful defensively and in my view had one of the franchise’s worst seasons.
NBA All-Star Kevin Love, the NBA’s most improved player at 20 points and 15 rebounds, played his heart out. His consecutive double-double streak of 53 games was the highlight of the season. Basketball is a team game, and as great as Love was it’s hard to look past the fact that the team was the worst in the league. I mean, you are who you are. As we watch the NBA Playoffs with Memphis, Oklahoma City, Chicago — the three biggest surprises — and the standard appearances of the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, and Miami —the new rising power— it’s hard to vision the Timberwolves playing at a level that represents the investment of time or faith. We’ve seen this act before. If only Kahn has his way and dumps Rambis.
Remember this: Philadelphia hired an experienced coach, Doug Collins, after seven years away and got results: seventh in the East 42-40. Hubie Brown even returned a few years ago after being away 18 years to coach Memphis back into the NBA mix. Maybe that’s the way to go. Butch Carter — remember him? He did a heck of a job in Toronto for three years (1998-2000) with talented young pups like Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady. It’s been 11 years, but Carter can coach and lead. It has to be more than just lip service to players. Kahn should call Carter.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, and on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm; he also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.