Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Week in Review: Preakness Stakes Edition

As we amble into the long summer months, the nights containing multiple Minnesota sports contests have dwindled to near nil due to the ineptitude of our winter franchises. A night with no Twins game and no Lynx contest, then, seemed like the perfect period for reflection on recent exploits of the field and court. Our barometer this week involves the equines who made the 137th Preakness Stakes the most thrilling two minutes of the weekend. Annnnnd they're off...

Minnesota Twins: The Twins went on a tear this week, winning four straight against the Tigers and Brewers and clinching their first winning Sunday-to-Saturday stretch of the season. The good times roll was punctuated by a game-winning Trevor Plouffe homerun in the 11th inning Saturday evening. Unfortunately, starter Jason Marquis saw that the team actually had a positive run differential for a seven-day period and freaked out, giving up eight runs in 1 2/3 innings Sunday en route to a humiliating 16-4 loss to the Brew Crew. The Twins start a 3-game series against the White Sox at Cell Phone Stadium tonight.

Preakness doppelganger: Pretension. Marquis and his 8.47 ERA have been designated for assignment, making way for 27-year-old former U of M pitcher Cole DeVries to try and crack our rickety rotation. But despite this week's mini-winning streak, the Twins still look like a team poised to take their early...what's a word for the opposite of momentum?...and finish the Belmont-like endurance test that is the baseball regular season about 34 1/2 lengths back from the leaders. Just like last-place finisher Pretension.

Minnesota Lynx: The Best Team in Town celebrated their 2011 WNBA championship with a half-hour ceremony before their 2012 debut Sunday, a 105-83 romp over thePhoenix Mercury. Last season's Finals MVP Seimone Augustus left the game early with a rib injury, but she's expected to play tonight as the Lynx take on the New York Liberty. Really the only bad news to come out of the Lynx's opening weekend was that their mascot, Prowl, was ejected from the American Heart Association's 2012 Heart Walk at Target Field. Prowl prowled (prowlingly) onto the pristine outfield grass as part of her celebration of winning her heat in the event's "Mascot Races" and was given the boot by stadium security for doing so.

Preakness doppelganger: Creative Cause. A womens basketball team's quest for a second straight league championship would be a truly creative cause for a metro area to get behind. But the Twin Cities have taken notice of the only high-level pro team to bring a championship banner to town in the last 20 years, as over 12,600 fans came to the Target Center for the team's season-opening triumph over Phoenix. If they keep winning, perhaps the Lynx will be the third-best draw in the state--much like the third-place horse in the Stakes--by the end of 2012.

Minnesota Vikings: STADIUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUM!!!!!! After the House and Senate votes, then the Conference Committee, then the other House and Senate votes, Governor Mark Dayton John Hancock'd the Vikings' stadium bill last Monday. The final plan that gained approval from both legislative houses, the governor, and Mark and Zygi Wilf shifted $50 million of the stadium's cost onto the team's owners and off of Minnesota taxpayers. The legislation now needs only the final OK from the Minneapolis City Council on Friday--a vote that is expected to mirror the 7-6 vote that the Council took concerning the bill last month. After the bill passed its final serious challenge in its second go-round in the Senate, this happened.

Preakness doppelganger: I'll Have Another. As in, I'll Have Another generation's worth of guaranteed good times on Sunday afternoons. I'll Have Another state-of-the-art sports facility in my home state in three or four years. I'll Have Another chance to catch the Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium while construction subsumes the Metrodome and the squad takes over campus for a season or two. I'll Have Another professional franchise for which to root as well, if the MLS comes to town. After a 3-13 season and a lackluster start to the free agent period, the past few weeks have been all sunshine and roses for the state's most popular sports squad. Just like they have been for the Triple Crown candidate that boasts the best horse name since Smarty Jones.

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