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The Minnesota Twins are aiming for a third straight division title, and they're confident another one can be had. Host Gary Eichten and Howard Sinker, sports commentator and state news editor for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, discuss the outlook for the Minnesota baseball team on the opening day of the season.

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(00:00:00) From Minnesota Public Radio. I'm Greta Cunningham Minnesota House and Senate lawmakers will begin to finalize their competing budget Visions this week. Both bodies are expected to approve the bulk of their 160 million dollar deficit reduction package before they break for the Easter weekend later this week House Republicans are counting on millions of dollars in new gambling revenues to flow from a proposed casino at the Canterbury Park racetrack in Shakopee. Send it to you Fellers have rejected that approach in favor of changes to the state's corporate income tax Democrats argue. The changes will capture business earnings that are now hidden in Shell companies GOP leaders say that amounts to tax increases house Republican speaker Steve Swig. Mm says there's some concern that the two sides could reach a stalemate that leaves a deficit untouched (00:00:45) that is not the house is desire. That's irresponsible. It's completely irresponsible. It's completely an imprudent action. We are we ought to balance our books. We had to balance the budget we Take care of the deficit. (00:01:01) The state's Reserve account is large enough to cover this year's budget shortfall but leaders from both Chambers say they'll try to preserve that account for future emergencies Inga base. Northwest Airlines was the most improved airline in 2003 according to an annual study about flight quality Northwest came in six last year after being ranked 9th in 2002 Budget Airline Jet. Blue was ranked number one in US Airline quality in 2003. It's opening day for the Minnesota Twins Minnesota opens the season against Cleveland tonight at the Metrodome. The teams will be playing on a new grass like surface at the Dome. There's a chance of afternoon showers in the Northeast and in central Minnesota, it will be windy and warm in the southwest highs today ranging from 45 to near 70 degrees right now in the Twin Cities report of sunny skies a temperature of 47 from Minnesota Public Radio. I'm Greta Cunningham. All right. Thanks Greta. It's six minutes now past 11. And good morning. Welcome to midday on Minnesota Public Radio. I'm Gary eichten one Championship run is over but maybe maybe another one starts tonight University of Minnesota women's basketball teams, exciting run at the college basketball championship and the Lindsay. We're away linear 04 that matter they finally came to an end last night with the Gophers losing in the NCAA Final Four semi-finals to defending Champion, Connecticut 67 258. But of course in the World of Sports Hope Springs Eternal, even as basketball fans reluctantly put away their maroon and gold Baseball fans can drag out there tattered old Minnesota Twins caps Twins play their season opener tonight at the Metrodome hoping to win their third straight division championship and who knows maybe a world championship this year a pipe dream. Well sports analyst Howard Sinker former Star Tribune twins beat reporter who is now the paper state. Editor has joined us this morning to talk about the twins prospects. And as always we invite you to join our conversation. If you have a question or a comment about the twins prospects this year give us a call or Twin City area number is 6512276 thousand 6512276 thousand toll free number is 1-800-218-4243 section or comment online. Just go to our website, Minnesota Public Radio dot org and click on send a question Howard. Good morning. (00:03:34) Good morning. Gary great to be great to be here. (00:03:37) Now before we get into the twins. We need to talk a little bit about the Gophers and they're fantastic season, one of the better Sports stories in a long time. Don't you think? (00:03:47) Oh, yeah. It was a wonderful season. It was kind of a storybook finish once Lindsay Whalen came back and the team went as far as it did in the in the NCAA tournament and last night they Just got beat by a slightly better team. (00:04:04) Do you imagine that the that this will touch off now a long string of great golfer basketball teams or it was this kind of a worn-out deal, (00:04:14) you know, it depends on what the perception was nationally of Minnesota get seen as a place for high school juniors and seniors to take seriously and if coach Pam Borden continues to get the best players from the state. This could be a long-standing thing. I mean Minnesota is either either this was a one-time deal or Minnesota is on its way to being a team that you talk about when you talk about the best teams and women's basketball, Connecticut, Tennessee, Louisiana Tech Duke, that's not out of the realm of possibility because there are fewer of those great teams than there are in men's basketball where where anything can happen at just about any time and the Gophers We could establish themselves as a force the difference between Minnesota and Connecticut last night and I think this speaks buckets. So to speak about the state of Grove High School basketball and Minnesota Minnesota had I think 11 homegrown players on its roster that can Connecticut had one. So this is a Minnesota Enterprise and if it gets slightly augmented by talented players from elsewhere this this could be something boy. There's could be a revenue producer (00:05:30) Gary. Yes, always at the top of everyone's list of concerns. Well, do you think I mean clearly the story in the team captivated? Everybody's a table not everybody but anybody who's paying attention captivated people's attention this year. (00:05:46) It was a fun story because it brought in people who really didn't care about basketball until maybe last week and it was a fun and unusual (00:05:56) bandwagon. So if let's say the Gophers How can overcome the absence of Lindsay Whalen next year and they get back into contention for the national championship? Do you expect the same level of excitement next (00:06:12) year? Oh, I think there could be I think when a team gets as far as Minnesota God, I mean when you get to the final four, it's natural to be excited. I mean that doesn't even get old for the teams that are there all the time like Tennessee or Connecticut, but it does set the bar awfully awfully high and then you start complaining about things that you would have been grateful for when the team was struggling. (00:06:34) Well, okay Gophers unfortunately are done one game too soon this year the twins though are just getting started. They open their season against Cleveland at the Dome denied several key players are gone from last year's team. But the core of the two-time defending division champs has returned Joe Mauer the Saint Paul Phenom will be making his major league debut tonight and If you would like to join Howard Sinker it was we talked about the twins prospects for this year. Give us a call here at 6512276 Thousand or 1-800 to for 22828. You can also submit your question online. Just go to Minnesota Public Radio dot org and click on send a question Howard as we switch over to the twins here. Let's start at the end of the story if we might are the twins in your mind good enough to make the playoffs again this (00:07:28) year. Oh, yeah, they're good enough to make the playoffs as much because of geography as anything else the American League Central is still kind of, you know, the miac of the major leagues and while the twins are arguing and put the twins in the role of being st. John's football. There's really if they play as well as they should there's really nobody to challenge them. Cleveland is kind of still in a rebuilding phase Kansas. City's pitching staff has been Hit by some injuries this spring and I think that last year may have been more of a fluke than sign of things to come and as we all know the White Sox, even though even though they have a new manager and Ozzie Guillen little if there's a way that the White Sox can miss something up that's that's their history they will and that leaves so that leaves the twins who won the division in Detroit which lost 2345 games last year. And so, I mean, we really can enter the season expecting them to win the division and then the question is how good are they really and can they find a way to duck the Yankees through the playoffs? So a team with a better shot might be able to knock them off (00:08:44) now the Skeptics would say yes Howard but pitching is the key to being a successful baseball team having a successful baseball team and heck the twins lost three starting pitchers from their five-man rotation. Lost their two top relief pitchers. How in the world can they be any good this (00:09:05) year? Well, you know, that's what your readers supposed to do or not. You're re Joe. Nathan is supposed to fill the attic or data Rule and there's no reason why he can't add he was untested when he was moved into that situation. I'm sorry. I had Rick Reed on the mine there because I know you're thinking of him as one of the three starting pitchers read managed to continue the the proud work. He did in Minnesota. He was hurt twice during spring training once I think it was his thigh. And once I think it was like, I don't know he closed his suitcase on his back or something. But literally, I mean this was a guy who had a really good chance to get into the Pittsburgh rotation. I mean, he was a whack at the start of spring training and then he went out and you know, did you know did silly little things all the way, you know through the spring and and got hurt a couple times. I still think this is his eternal punishment for crossing the picket lines during During one of the baseball (00:10:02) servings. I see what you think. The pitching will be good enough even even with the loss of some good pictures. (00:10:08) Well, it's either going to be good enough for her or it's going to get really really frustrating and nasty really early and the twins may have to beat teams, you know in a different way. They may have to go with their starters a little bit longer, you know, Carlos Silva the one of the pictures they got for Eric Milton. Everybody is having a good time watching him this spring with the question with him is can he really get by I can he be an effective starting pitcher throwing basically only two different pitches, but he throws him hard. He throws him nasty and if he can get through six Innings and the bullpen can step up they should be (00:10:44) okay. Okay one one other question for you Howard before we get to listener questions Joe Mauer the Saint Paul native The cretan Graduate who was the Twin's first draft pick here a couple of years ago has been called up. This will be his maid. League debut he replaces All-Star catcher AJ Pierzynski good reports out of spring training. Is it realistic though to assume that somebody so young and so inexperienced can do well. (00:11:16) Well They seized 20 going on Thirty which worries me because of that mean next year. He's 30 going on 40. He never or we are we looking at are we looking at something that psychologically is great and physically is not so good. You know, I think it's a fun experiment. I mean, there are scouts are people outside the twins organization who are now saying that the twins did the right thing and drafting Mauer instead of Mark Prior the was the Cubs number one. It was a Cubs. Number one pick that year was picked right after the twins took an hour and you know, we'll see but you know what? It's a whole lot better than seeing if you know one of the you know something Whole lot better than seeing of mattli Matthew Lee Kroy can handle a hundred twenty games behind the plate. You know, we're not looking at a situation where the upside is. So low as to be ridiculous. The upside here is from all reports, you know worth whatever problems might be encountered along the way (00:12:21) there was some speculation in one of the newspapers. I think it was in the st. Paul paper though. I'm not sure that suggesting that folks who have followed Mauer through his career. Our seats are predicting that he will actually make the All-Star team this year and by the end of the year, we'll have been moved up to the key number three position in the batting order that he's that good or people (00:12:47) hallucinate hallucinating. Well, you know, remember AJ Pierzynski was an All-Star mostly because the catching pool in the American League was not particularly deep it still isn't you know, Ivan Rodriguez is with the Acres now, but you know when you're with the tigers, that means he'll probably signed signed as a free agent. That means he'll probably get hurt. There's a chance. I mean, there's a reasonably good chance people are going to get, you know, the excitement around him is such that people will give him kind of the Carmelo Anthony LeBron James James benefit of the doubt and if he's hitting 280 if he's hitting 270 and throwing guys out and showing up on ESPN's highlight reels enough. Yeah. He very good chance that he'll be in (00:13:30) Ulster hard Sinker is our guest. He is our longtime sports analyst, of course here at Minnesota Public Radio, and he has joined us this morning to get us ready for the start of the Major League Baseball season the Twins play their opener tonight. The game is at the Metrodome against Cleveland. If you would like to join our conversation about the prospects for the twins this year give us a call to and City area number is 6512276 thousand or you can call us on our toll free line. That number is Also send in your question or comment online go to our website, Minnesota Public Radio dot org and click on send a question John. You're up. First. Go ahead, please. (00:14:11) Good morning. Thank you for taking my call. My question is probably something on a lot of twins fans Minds. What's the story with the Victory Sports Network? (00:14:20) All right. Well that brings that is a grand opening to bring William wilcoxen into the discussion. Mr. Public radio reporter and Williams been following this Saga. First of all William, we should explain that to people who have been following this John is concerned that he won't be able to see any ballgames this year and he's pretty much right is he not it's true that twins will play a hundred and sixty two games in more than a hundred of them will be on a network called Victory Sports one that John was just asking about now the the issue there is that most of the people in Minnesota are not able to get Victory Sports One at all. And so tree fell in the forest herein lies the rub now, I will explain In this age of Revenue sharing what has happened is that the twins had a chance to see how much some of their competitors were making through their own cable television networks. The old model was that the twins would sell their cable rights to Fox Sports Net and they would get a some money from that and then Fox Sports Net would turn around and work out a deal with the local cable providers around the state and Fox Sports Net would also collect the ad revenue from those broadcasts. So the twin said, well, we're going to dispense with the middleman and create our own network Victory Sports one, which is owned by Carl pole dad and family the same folks who own the twins. So they've cut out the middleman and they have a chance to to grow some revenue streams as they say, but the problem with this is that the the major cable providers that serve Minnesota have not agreed to carry this this new network Victory Sports 1 and so that leaves us in this situation where the majority of the games unless something changes will not be available in most Minnesota households. Now I should add that there. Some communities that do get Victory Sports One Hibbing Bemidji Winona Detroit Lakes places like that do get Victory Sports 1 and so they're they're they're ready for opening day and I should mention as well that some of the games will be on just regular old-fashioned television. You don't have to have cable or satellite to see tonight's game for example, and most Friday night games will be broadcast on kst see which is channel 45 and that's again just broadcast over the air TV. So about 30 plus games will be available to everybody but as I say as things stand now the majority of the games are not available to most minnesotans. Why is it that the twins have been able to reach an agreement with some of these smaller cable Outlets outside the metro area but have been unable to reach an agreement with the biggies. Well, it's I think there isn't a clear answer to that the the big networks the real rub in the negotiations seems to be that the The large networks and we're talking here about Comcast which serves St.Paul and Time Warner which serves Minneapolis as well as the satellite the leading satellite system DirecTV and there's a few others these companies have said well, we will be happy to carry Victory Sports, but we'd like to put it on a separate tear what what they call it. For example digital cable make it available to the people who subscribe to digital cable. Now that's a minority of your cable subscribers. But their argument is that that way only the people who are really interested in watching the twins games would have to pay for that channel. And the rest of the folks could not get it and just subscribe to your basic service. The twins on the other hand have said no or Victory Sports. I'm sorry has said no that's not acceptable. We want it to be available to your average cable subscribers. So they're at a standoff and here we are opening day and there's still still no resolution and no sign of Breakin the impasse they the Victory Sports is upset because they These cable companies are not even negotiating with us the cable companies say they're upset because Victory Sports gave them an offer last year and has not changed it at all. And so here we are at this standoff. So I've talked with some analysts. I should mention that is more teams have started to do this start their own cable outfits and you know eliminate this middle man. There are more chances down to look around the country and see how this goes. There are some cases where actually particularly case in Portland where the owner of the basketball team the Trailblazers tried this and it failed he couldn't get on the networks and after a year he did they gave up and went back to the old method. So this is still as it becomes more common. A lot of folks are still watching how this goes one school of thought says, you know now that the season is getting underway and people are really going to be upset about not being able to see the twins. Something will get worked out. Another school of thought is that the cable companies might go a whole year without carrying Victory Sports 1 See if it's still around and then maybe think about carrying it next year. Well, um, thanks a lot. I'm sort of public radio reporter waiting wilcoxon who's been following this Saga about the twins on TV Howard. Can the twins afford not to have their games on (00:19:18) TV. That was a really cheerful report was that, you know, you can get away with it in the short term I think but boy, you know, and this has been such a feel good thing the last couple years, you know, winning the division year before last getting to the the American League Championship Series for fans to have to watch, you know, a hissing match between between the cable companies and you know, an offshoot of the twins is really really frustrating that the irony here is Once Upon a Time back in the 80s. The twins did have their own operation. There was a thing called Spectrum Which the Twins and the late great, Minnesota North Stars operated and they got out of the business for whatever reason and in fact somewhere in my closet. I have dick framers Spectrum Sports Blazer, you know, which may show up on eBay one of these days. I don't know but you know, there was a time when the when this was not seen as a way and this was back when it was a pay-per-view operation if you wanted to watch a Twins game, it costs like 795 and the there just wasn't a market for it and I think when the twins see the idea of putting their games on a optional tear, you know, some of the thoughts of spectrum Sports go through their heads, but it's a different it's a different animal. It's not, you know, paying, you know, a hundred dollars a month or whatever if you want to watch 15 games on TV. It's more nominal fee for a second tier of programming. I mean it's cheaper and when we talk about An optional tier, I mean this is not in the price range of HBO or Showtime or Spectrum on on saying on Time Warner, which is my cable system where we can all just move to Hibbing and watch the (00:21:14) twins Shane your question, please (00:21:18) yeah just care about Joe Mauer and I think that's great and being from Rochester. I'm a little bit biased about Michael rest of it and I'm wondering is he to versatile? I mean because I look at what I see and it's for power. He's young. He's bright. Is he going to be in the Major League team full time this year Shane intelligence when you talked about him being bright intelligence typically works against a major league baseball player because they start thinking and then they say, oh my gosh. This is really an atmosphere of Conformity take that for no, you know what this was going to be the year when guys like rest of itch we're going to sort of have a breakthrough season and and be, you know have their you know have their 400 500 at-bats as rookies and that Says hasn't happened because there's Anna stairs established Talent the The Exodus of guys like man cave at your Koski or one of the outfielders Joe. You know, it's a shock Jones is one of the stuff that was talked about all last season and the season before it just didn't happen plus the twin spent, you know, really they blew most of the free agent Budget on re-signing Shannon Stewart and there went the opportunity for a guy like Michael rest of achor a guy like Lou Ford. They don't want to have rest of it John on the major league roster and have them get a hundred 50 at-bats. They need him as frustrating as it is for me may need him, you know, they need him playing every day and AAA where if something goes wrong the he'd be available to be called up and if he's hitting 380 down there and there's another team that needs an outfielder and let's say the twins do need some pitching, you know, there's a rest of it's for somebody deal out there, (00:22:58) but we shouldn't assume Hands, like Shane should not assume that just because Rochester Fina Michael rest of H is not on the team this year that that he's a washout. (00:23:08) No, no, no, no. No, I did really speaks to the strength of the position players. There just wasn't the room. I mean, they're just you know, if rest of it should come up as a catcher, you know of and you know, then maybe Joe Mauer wouldn't have needed to exist or something but it just wasn't going to it just wasn't the right time for him to break into the starting out field which is you know, one of the three or four best in (00:23:33) baseball online question for you. How are this is from Ryan and Apple Valley wants to know about the the new artificial turf that's been installed at the Metrodome. It makes its debut tonight or any opener big deal or (00:23:49) a big deal because it won't be like playing baseball and a pool on a billiard surface and it will when you walk into the stadium it will look, you know, it'll look better than my Garrett anyway, I mean it'll look like it'll look like grass. It'll play more like grass. It'll still be faster than natural Turf and unlike Tampa. We're actually in st. Petersburg where the Tampa Bay Devil Rays have the same surface and they have a full dirt in field, you know, there still will be those dreaded cutouts around the bases and the turf anywhere else but it will play and look more like real glad glue real grass and a lot more like real grass because the the prior turf at the Dome was just I mean, it was just a terrible. (00:24:37) Is it a lot softer now? So if you guys die for balls or fall over they won't kill (00:24:42) himself. They won't kill themselves. They won't get carpet Burns, but especially while the stuff is new. I think you're going to see him wearing long sleeves because that those little those grades are those Blades of faux grass are kind of prickly. So, you know instead of getting carpet Burns you'll you know, wait, you know, you'll get up from from sliding across it with, you know, these little you know, little sticky marks all over you (00:25:08) Howard Sinker is with us Howard has joined us on opening day the Twins play their home opener their season opener at the Metrodome tonight against Cleveland and we thought it'd be interesting to catch up on whether the twins have a good chance to repeat as division Champions. They've won the American League Central Division Championship two years in a row. This would be their third straight if they can pull it off, but of course quite a few new players are on the team. They got rid of some of their better known players have replaced them with folks who haven't been playing here and lots of question marks about the twins this year. If you'd like to join our conversation, give us a call six five one two, two seven six thousand 6512276 thousand toll free number is No send in your question or comment online just go to our website, Minnesota Public Radio dot org and click on send a question and we'll get to more of your questions here in a couple minutes programming is supported by the blandin foundation committed to strengthening rural Minnesota communities online at blandin Foundation dot-org news headlines. Now, here's got a Cunningham gotta thank you Gary good morning, and anti-American cleric in Iraq is facing an arrest warrant Coalition officials say an Iraqi judge issued the warrant in connection with the killing of another Shiite Muslim leader followers of the cleric were behind deadly rioting in several Iraqi cities this weekend. The US Commander says al-sadr is free to surrender and that if he does he'll be treated with dignity and respect 25 arrest warrants have been issued in the case 13 suspects have been taken into custody. There are more clashes today in several Iraqi cities President Bush says the u.s. Is still being challenged in Iraq, but he's valuing the country will have a democratic government for spoke to A North Carolina college where he's also announcing a plan for training programs to help workers adapt to a changing economy at least 15 people are dead and another 60 missing after a flash flood struck a Border Town in northern Mexico. Today u.s. Border Patrol helicopters help rescue people from rooftops officials. Say the floodwaters Swept Away houses and flipped over cars in Regional news one student suffered a leg injury when a police car collided with a school bus in North Minneapolis this morning. It happened at an intersection around 8:30 a police. Spokesman says the bus was struck bra side and overturned three students and to Adelaide's on the bus were taken to HCMC all are in stable condition police say one student suffered a minor leg injury, the cause of the Collision is under investigation the forecast for Minnesota calls for a chance of afternoon showers in northeastern and Central Minnesota. It will be warm and windy in the southwest today with highs ranging from 45 in the north to near 70 in the southwest right now in Sioux Falls. It's The in 60 degrees Morehead reports Fair skies and 52 skies are sunny and Rochester and 51. It's sunny and Duluth and 41 and in the Twin Cities Sunshine a temperature of 53 Gary. That's a look at the latest news. Thanks Greta 28 minutes before twelve. This is midday and Minnesota Public Radio over the noon hour. Today. We're going to hear from two prominent Minnesota Business Leaders. Jim Campbell retired chief executive officer Wells Fargo. He's now heading up a new group of CEOs the Itasca Group, which looks at public policy issues. We'll hear from him. And also we're going to hear from Edgar a teen who was one of the folks who essentially invented the snowmobile. He started both the Arctic Cat and Polaris and he's still coming up with new products for folks who like to get out in the snow. So we'll hear from both of those prominent minnesotans over the noon hour today part of our voice. A Minnesota series. We have another prominent Minnesota. Of course joining us this hour Howard Sinker longtime sports analyst here at Minnesota Public Radio Howard used to cover the Minnesota Twins for the Star Tribune and he is currently the Star Tribune State News editor. We're talking about the twins prospects this season as they get ready for their season opener tonight at the Metrodome. And if you would like to join our conversation again, the number to call is six-five 12276 thousand or 1-800 to for 22828 again, you can also send in your question online go to our website, Minnesota Public Radio dot org and click on send a question talking about the twins prospects for this year. We began the program, of course, for those of you who tuned in late talking a little bit about the University of Minnesota women's basketball team, which had a great season finally it came to an end last night. They go for his lost in the NCAA semifinals to Connecticut last night. And joining us now from New Orleans and sort of public radio producer Jane Solider who is a big goal for women's basketball fan and who is covering the team for Minnesota Public Radio. Good morning, Jane morning, Gary. Yeah, long night for you. I know yeah best you can tell was the was the team pretty pretty bummed about losing or after the initial disappointment pretty satisfied with a great season. (00:30:28) Well, you know, I think it's a little bit of both. I think that they were very upset, you know, despite the predictions and the expectations. I think that they really believe that they could win it all and they had a really good chance, you know, they played Connecticut pretty tough considering Connecticut got off to a big lead Nails last night, but you know, I think that you know, Lindsay Whalen and Janelle mccarville talk to the Press last night and you know, they were obviously upset but at the same time, you know, Lindsay really talked about what what a great experience. What a great run this has been in that you know, she takes a lot of pride in that hmm (00:31:02) are the team members out and about enjoying the sights in New Orleans (00:31:06) today, not yet. But we expect to see him later. I think they'll probably sleep in today and be out in about later. I think they might enjoy the city a little (00:31:14) bit that the Coach Carter kept them on a fairly short leash. Did she know? (00:31:19) Yeah. She did she really limited, you know, any kind of action they had on the town and and really had a pretty strict curfew she did she didn't want too many distractions for a (00:31:30) team. Are they staying for the national championship game tomorrow night. (00:31:34) My understanding is that they are that was the original plan and I haven't heard (00:31:37) differently talking to the fans who went to the game. Are they? Excited and optimistic about next year's prospects or looking at this from the other direction saying gosh we lost our best player. We're going to lose our best player Lindsay Whalen and let's hope we don't sink back into mediocrity. (00:31:59) Well, I think that most people that I talk to are pretty optimistic. I mean, this is the only team in the country with to Kodak All American players on it, you know, the nail mccarville is amazing and and had an amazing tournament run and I think that she is the kind of player like Lindsay Whalen that you can build a team around even if it's for the One season next year. I think that those The Freshman that got some experience, you know, Jamie bro back and Kelly Rosalind, you know, we're going to come back better for it next season and and they have a few recruits coming in that that actually look pretty good A couple of players from Chicago think a player from the west coast and then there's a local player from Hopkins Leslie night. So so they have a pretty good recruiting class coming in. They have a couple of red shirts that didn't play this year who will play next year and I think they have To get a chance next year and I think most fans are looking ahead with some (00:32:46) optimism Jane. Thanks a lot. Get some rest have fun. Yeah, thanks. I'm sort of public radio producer Jane song or joining us from New Orleans where she is been watching the games watching the Gopher basketball team and also reporting on the last night's game for Minnesota Public Radio will Howard you were saying earlier. Gosh if they can supplement the roster a little bit. They should be pretty good again next year and for quite a while and it sounds based on what Jane was saying that there are at least prospects in the poppet (00:33:17) pipeline the prospects are there, but you know, you never know if you're getting and if I can switch to Men's Basketball for a second, you never know if you're getting you know, Kris Humphries or a loo cane you know, I mean Humphrey and Humphreys came in and had a dramatic impact right away and Kane who everybody had high hopes for its transferring out the thing the other thing that's going to happen is if Minnesota becomes a National kind of a destination school for The Talented players Nationwide kids from Minnesota may not have the opportunities that exist right now and it'll be interesting to see how that plays out. I mean if if if people will be just as thrilled with the team that has four or five or six minnesotans as they are with a team that's almost entirely from you know, Minnesota plus a starter from Sweden which you know is almost (00:34:11) Minnesota you think and I would do when I get back to the twins here, but one more question on this do you think as a practical matter the university should give preference to Minnesota (00:34:23) kids now, they should give preference to getting athletes who will comport themselves wonderfully as students as Citizens and went a whole lot of basketball games. I should do all three and you don't you don't have an infinite in state. Talent pool there at a third an interesting there at an interesting point. Whereas five years ago. All the best players in the state. The Miller twins Susan came from Holy Angels who now is Susan borchardt who played for Stanford this year there, you know that they all went out of state, you know, maren walseth went to Penn State now the best players are staying here and then you get some very talented players like Melissa Miller and Kelly Ray Finley from BRAC who's you know, the team easily won the state to a championship and there at Northwestern right now whether or not the you had an interest in them, I don't I don't know but they would have been natural fits once upon a time for a struggling program and there were questions in a program. It's as good as this one is (00:35:30) now all right, let's set the basketball aside again and we'll pick up the baseball again and focus again on the twins prospects as they get ready to play their season opener again, if you'd like to join our conversation Howard Sinker about twins 6512276 thousand or one eight hundred two, four two two eight two eight or you can send in your question or comment online at Minnesota Public Radio dot or click on send a question Howard. You have a question for Howard. (00:35:57) I do you'd mention Howard the the replacement of the kerf earlier the organization look at replacing the entire dirt in the infield to make it similar to say Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay or was that just cost prohibitive? I don't know that boy lot of things with the twins seem to be cost prohibitive. I think they figured this was good enough for now whether that becomes something that they consider doing up the road. I don't know. I also don't know how thrown off schedule they may have been by the fact that the vendor that they originally chose for the project went out of business. And and the the turf that they've used was the second choice Turf and needed to be installed on a faster track schedule. Than originally (00:36:44) planned wouldn't a giant cut out like that that would Encompass the whole infield also make it fairly difficult for the Vikings and essentially undermine the new field as far as they're (00:36:58) concerned. Well, yeah, you would need to be able to you know, the dirt would rest on a Surface where it can be where it could be ripped out and replaced for football and one of the arguments one of the problems even with this current Turf is that it doesn't convert very well for other events and I'm guessing we're talking about anything from field markings on up through a covering it for tractor pulls or something like that. (00:37:23) Amy has an online question for you Howard. Perhaps tongue-in-cheek will see Amy Says did the training of Eddy Gordo and AJ Pierzynski affect current players willingness to model for (00:37:38) bobbleheads. Wow, no, I would think that it would enhance it because those model heads when I was Bible has one move one uniform removed to do nothing but go up in value. (00:37:50) What does that mean? If you have your bobble head (00:37:52) and your head gets cut off (00:37:54) they get shipped us to San Francisco or (00:37:57) whatever. You know, we've been nobody has done a comparison between 20 and 11 will see what happens. You know with these like Wally Szczerbiak nesting dolls, you know, if he gets traded maybe there's something to it, but we'll see that I can answer that question with a definitive will see (00:38:16) another Turf question for you another online Turf (00:38:19) question what people like this Turf stuff. I mean well, but maybe they're planning on turning the Metrodome into a second Canterbury Park (00:38:26) Rodney asks concerning the new dome Turf how many owners managers players and so on complained about the Battle Turf? (00:38:35) Oh every one of them every one every, you know, people hated it because Nana Wait, I mean Not only was it, you know terrible thing of a knees and feet and ankles but it's people perceive that it gave the Twins and unfair Advantage because they knew how to play it and other teams didn't it's a little bit of a goofy argument because it would be like complaining about Fenway Park that the Red Sox know how to play the green monster or the Yankees know all of you know bumps and jolts of Yankee Stadium, but it was very easy to complain about and it was rotten Turf and anyone who didn't complain about it was you know wasn't doing baseball a favor. I mean, even the twins didn't like it as much of an advantage is it (00:39:22) provided and to do they twins now lose that that special home field advantage because with a because of the new (00:39:30) Turf well, they still have the roof which is weird. They still have Bob Casey ha ha ha you don't have Myriad things that make The park unique but it's just more, you know, kind of in the in the quirky sense. I mean everybody makes fun of the the baggie and right field but that's just kind of an endearing quark and you know, it's not the green monster. It doesn't have a history of the green monster at Fenway or you know, Yankee Stadium being 600 feet to center field or anything like that. But you know the era of you know, I mean what did people want a ballpark that was, you know, 330 down both lines and 410 to straightaway Center and look the same no matter how you looked at it. I mean no the park is allowed, you know, it's a bit of a dump but it's our dump (00:40:26) Howard Sinker is with us. He is our sports analyst and if you'd like to join our conversation, we're talking this sour about the Minnesota Twins as they get ready to play their season opener tonight, they play at the Dome against Cleveland they are Two-time defending American League Central Division Champs. They've been in the playoffs the last two years. There's angst among some twins fans as to whether they'll be able to win again this year because there are several new players on the team. If you'd like to join our conversation, give us a call six five one two, two seven six thousand or 1-800 to for 22828 or again use our online service go to Minnesota Public Radio dot org and click on send a question. We were talking about pitching earlier in the program Howard and I wanted there's a lot of focus here on Joe Nathan now, he's supposed to be the closer to replace any Gordo. That means that he would pitch in the ninth inning when the twins are ahead sealing the victory as they like to say the first of all we should know what he's never actually done this right, (00:41:33) right. He has one career safe, (00:41:35) and but he's but he had a very successful year last year. Pitching in earlier Innings. What's the big deal about pitching in the ninth inning as opposed to being brought into a tense situation in the seventh or eighth inning (00:41:50) It's a Wonderful question and it's a baseball mystery. I mean one of the great set of men of the early 1980s was the legendary Ron Davis who when he came to the Twins and became a closer just became an adventurer of Adventure a minute. It's like, why do some guys you know, Rick Aguilera was a five innings starter when he was with the New York Mets and the little bit better when his time when he started for the twins, but and everybody doubted his as a guy Tough Enough To Be A Closer as a guy tough enough to be a closer and he was So there's something and really one of the beauties of baseball is, you know, they're these intangibles and one of the intangibles is what does a guy do what does it take to be a successful closer? And there are any number of you know there any number of styles that are effective of the guys who come in and blow you away with one pitch and you know, there are guys who you know can you know do nasty things with the ball and have the same at the same effect. So it's a go figure. I mean two years ago everyone thought that if Gordo faltered JC Romero could step in and do the job. He didn't have as good a blastula a year last year and all of a sudden there were doubts. Another example is will try Hawkins who left and signed with the Cubs. He was he couldn't do it as a closer and then he established himself as a premier setup guy go figure. (00:43:17) So there's no good explanation. (00:43:19) No, I mean, you know, and that's fine. I mean, it's It can't if there was a formula every team would have won every team would develop a guy like that in the minor leagues and it would be it would be dull but the twins are betting on the fact that this guy has a wicked fast ball and the right disposition to get the last three outs (00:43:43) Johan Santana. Is he on the verge of being a superstar or is he going to spend more time on the disabled list than on the pitching (00:43:52) mound? I think he's going to work out just fine. I think that he's somebody who the twins are with as a with his full year in the rotation are going to count on winning 15 games. He had the offseason surgery and he struggled a little bit during the Fairway struggled more than a little bit during the first part of the the spring and he seemed to his last couple of starts. He was he was much more effective and he seems to be where the twins want him to be at in terms of command of his pitches. Is it will be a big surprise to me if he doesn't have another very very good (00:44:27) year. Should we think about him in the same sense that many fans think about Pedro Martinez, which is to say when he's healthy and when he's pitching he is really good but a lot of times he seems to be hurt. (00:44:41) Well, you know, he needs to he said more of a track record before you can make that kind of comparison he needs to he needs to be a starter for a full season. I mean, he does, you know, the the leg cramp thing which you know, somebody's got to say, you know, hey, Johan have you been drinking water between Innings, you know, have you been doing you know, I mean, he almost needs like a mother figure, you know in The Dugout to say Johann. Are you hydrated? I know are you hydrating yourself? I mean, that's just I mean that that said he does as silly as it seems that seems to be what the problem, you know was last year and a couple of his starts (00:45:19) Torii Hunter has been a big Twin Star the last few years. There is some thought that this might be the year that he establishes himself in that really that the upper tier of baseball players. Would you agree with that? (00:45:33) I think he's already in the you know, I mean, it depends on what you consider the upper tier. I think he's probably in the top 20% of all outfielders. The question is does he become you know, the elite centerfielder just as feared for his bad as his glove. I mean the can he hit 310. Can he hit 30 home runs and can he continue doing the things he does in the in the field if he does that then the answer is yes, if he comes close the answer as well. He's still on his way. He still fairly young. You know, he had a very good spring. He seemed to know he recovered fully from a little Scare at the beginning where he ran into the wall and sprained his wrist, which I guess was a wonderful first week incident for the twins to ponder, but he he seems he seems set for continued. Our time, I mean we're dealing with a guy who's already been an All-Star. So it shouldn't be a surprise if he morphs into you know an elite player (00:46:30) new left fielder, or at least new compared to where the Twins were when they started last season Shannon Stewart who joined the team mid mid season and did so well that he finished I believe it was fourth in the most valuable player voting he will now be that with the twins all year. What does that mean for the (00:46:48) Minnesota Twins and providing he he hits 300 continues doing the things he did last year that that means really good things. I mean, he's there as a hitter. I mean as an outfielder Jones and Jones and Hunter are clearly above average outfielders Shannon Stewart's of a fairly good outfielder with an arm that an opposing team can take advantage of but he's there to hit and set a tone and said an attitude. I mean one of the things he brought to the team last year was professionalism. I mean, he really He really you know, I think was one of the reasons the team got over there so gosh were seven and a half games behind and we miss David Ortiz and you know, we miss our friends who aren't here anymore. This year players aren't complaining about the ones who got away. They understand that it's part of the game and some of them are probably feeling pretty fortunate that it wasn't them back if your Quarry Caskey you got to be pretty feel pretty good about being in Minnesota right now (00:47:48) back to our online questions. Jan from Duluth says are others like myself who have been Long Time season ticket holders going to give up presumably give up their tickets what with this Victory Channel deal that you can watch the twins on (00:48:05) TV. Well, you know if it's thousand season ticket holders from out State said, you know for as long as I can't watch my team, I'm not going to patronize you at all. It might have some impact in the discussion, you know, people always talk about fans boycotting this or fans doing that and we should all do this and we should all do that. The problem is that the fan base is usually to defuse defuse for anyone to really, you know, go anybody really to pull something like that off. You know, what's all boycott the ballpark today that just means there's good seats available for people who don't normally go to the games. But people making their feelings known to to the Twins and to their cable companies that you know, gentlemen or ladies. This is the silly get itself to get itself. (00:48:54) Now do you think there will be much Fallout inter from the steroid controversy (00:49:02) do I think there will be much Fallout from the steroid controversy (00:49:05) will be the kind of thing that will keep fans away from baseball this (00:49:08) year. No, I don't think so. Why not? I don't think so. I think people people are in fact it might bring people to the ballpark to watch The Incredible Shrinking ballplayers, you know, somebody's going to yell when you and Barry Bonds flies out to the warning track a berry that would have been a home run three years ago, you know, that would have been a home run last year. You know people are going to you know, people are going to ask, you know, people are going to be checking Jason. Giambi is uniform size. I mean, you know, he's probably the best example of a guy who came to Camp, you know, one year as a as a lineman in the next year as a cornerback. So I don't think it'll bring people. It'll keep people away. I think that you know II Baseball has done, you know baseball and the players union have done so many things wrong in terms of messing with the game, you know, that there's silly testing response is just one more thing that we as fans have to put up with and we've suffered through enough indignities of this is a fairly minor one compared to canceling the World Series like in 94 starting the season three weeks late because of a strike Or you know some teams that just, you know have no chance because of a lack of competitive payroll balance (00:50:25) should the commissioner get out his asterisk pen and put some asterisks but behind all those home run records that have been that have cropped up in the last few (00:50:35) years. You know, I think we'd be up to about seven asteroid by now. I mean you'd have the steroid asterisk. You'd have the 162-game season asterisks. You'd have the dead-ball era asterisk. You'd have the IP only played on artificial turf asterisk. I mean, where do you stop? You know, where do you stop? It's I don't know and I don't think (00:50:59) so. Salary camp we should talk about that or I should say payroll situation the Yankees and the Red Sox and the Cubs all seem to have all of which are wealthy teams all seem to have loaded up with extra players good (00:51:17) players it LaTroy Hawkins signed with the Cubs Duty Call that loading up and when I'm waiting for them to say, hey, maybe LaTroy can close a game. You don't (00:51:26) send the can the Twins and and other teams like the twins ultimately compete with these big big money (00:51:33) guys. Yeah, they can compete. It's probably you know, that's probably to the twins Advantage. I mean it is to the twins advantage that they're in a division that doesn't feature Big Spenders, but their vote there's always been spending disparities and baseball and you know year in and year out the same teams. Do not always win. You know, it's always been like this. I mean if you had something like pro football with the salary cap, you'd have, you know, somebody finishing in first place with eighty four victories and somebody finishing last with 77 victories and you know, there'd be no personality of the teams. So I mean, yeah, I think I think that the wealthy teams have an obligation to provide a reasonable Baseline for the weaker ones. But is there ever going to be absolute parody? No way and there's there shouldn't be I mean the Yankees are going to be the Yankees are going to be the Yankees. They shouldn't be a they shouldn't have to resemble. You know, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. (00:52:34) Well that brings us to the next question and online question from Kirk who notes that the over-under number in Las Vegas is for the twins to win 84 games. What is your (00:52:47) thought? I don't answer gambling questions. You know that 08. I'm really supposed to get of our vets. Will they win 84 we locate your honor. Can you ask that question in a different way so my client understands it? All right. Yeah boy, I take that in a minute anybody call it as anybody wants to call in and take less than 84 and I'll bury him. I don't know hot dog or something like (00:53:15) that. So you think twins will do at least (00:53:17) that well, they better yeah, gosh, if they finish they win 83 games, you know, that's two games above 500 and we're talking about significant under performance (00:53:27) here. You think their attendance will be up this year compared to last year. (00:53:31) I think last year. They struggled, you know with some complacency early on attendance wise. I think that some of that might depend on how this whole cable thing plays out, you know, if you do play in a vacuum and you're and you're struggling people are going to pretend you don't exist, who knows they might even go start watching soccer games or something. (00:53:53) You predicted at the beginning of the show that you thought the twins would be able to win their division. (00:53:58) I still feel that way. Thank you. (00:54:00) Yankees are Red Sox in the East. (00:54:03) Oh, you know, I want to say the Red Sox, but you know, yeah, I think you know what it would be so much fun to watch the Yankees disintegrate, you know, or only when 93 games and finished two games behind the Red Sox. Let's say the Red Sox are going to win the division of the Yankees are going to be the wild (00:54:19) card team and the Western Division champion. (00:54:22) Oh, let's see. What's let's say Oakland because Billy Beane is (00:54:26) cool and three Quick Picks in the ER and the national (00:54:30) league. Oh, you know the Cubs have to win because after win their division, I mean that's just payback for you know, all the angst that all the angst that they went through last year. I think you'll have AJ Pierzynski in the postseason with the with the with the Giants and you know, I like the Marlins. I think the Marlins are just fun. Deering team to watch and they think the Astros are going to be the great disappointment because I don't think all that pitching is as good as we think it is (00:55:02) Howard. It's always good to talk with you before we let you go. We should point out that Kent from Duluth has spanked our hand or spanked my hand. Anyway pointing out that um D is playing for the National Hockey title College hockey and so go (00:55:18) Bulldogs. Yeah, go dogs. Go. Thanks hard good time with it. Always a pleasure (00:55:23) Howard's anchor our longtime sports analyst here at Minnesota Public Radio joining us as we get ready for the start of the Major League Baseball season the Twins play their home opener at the Metrodome tonight against Cleveland, like thank all of you who've been with us this hour, especially those of you who tried to send your questions in we're going to break for news headlines, then two voices of Minnesota interviews with two prominent, Minnesota Business Leaders. Programming is supported by arts and custom publishing Publishers of arts program magazines and custom Publications in the Twin Cities for organizations. Like the Minnesota Orchestra and Ordway Center advertising information available at 6. 1 2 3 7 5 9222 your 292 1.1 Canada wfm Minneapolis. And st. Paul partly cloudy skies currently 53 degrees in the Twin Cities and the Weather Service says it might hit 70. It might hit 70 yet today. There's also a 30% chance for some rain late this afternoon, but it would be warm rain then tonight partly cloudy 30% chance for some rain with an overnight low near 40 tomorrow should be another very nice spring day in the Twin City area sunny tomorrow with a high 60 to 65. Some rain is forecast by Wednesday. Also cooler weather is forecast by Wednesday with a high only 50 degrees on Wednesday.

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