The Twins, the Wild and the Loons: Sports news for Oct. 6

Young pitcher in blue Twins uniform
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Simeon Woods Richardson throws against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning of a baseball game on Sunday in Detroit.
Jose Juarez | AP

The Twins limp into the end of the season while the pucks are about to drop in the NHL plus the Minnesota Loons wrap up their play. All the sports news you need to know for Thursday, Oct. 6. Wally Langfellow and Eric Nelson of 10,000 Takes Sports Talk Program dish it with Cathy Wurzer.

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Audio transcript

CATHY WURZER: All right, let's see. Where should we start with sports, the Twins' season that started with a bang and ended with a thud, the Timberwolves and Wild in their preseasons, the Gophers licking their wounds after a meltdown against Purdue? Oh, so much to talk about. So little time.

Here to run it down for us are our sports guys, Wally and Eric. Wally Langfellow is the creator of Minnesota Score magazine and the cohost of Ten Thousand Take sports show. 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've been gone.

CATHY WURZER: I know.

ERIC NELSON: I barely recognize your voice, Cathy.

CATHY WURZER: Yes, and I barely recognize myself after the vacation. OK. Vikings, Wally, London was kind of interesting to watch. How are they doing?

WALLY LANGFELLOW: Well, I mean, they won the football game. And that's the main thing. They went over there with a 2 and 1 record against a team that was down several players, several key players. That's the New Orleans Saints. And they won the game.

Oh, by the way, they're now 3 and 0 in London, 2013, the game against the steelers where Eric and I were, 2017 against the Cleveland Browns, and then the win this past Sunday. So 3 and 1. The bad news is safety Lewis Cine, the Vikings first round draft choice, suffers a leg injury. He had surgery on Wednesday. He should be back in the Twin Cities now or soon.

Of course, the Vikings will be without him, I presume, for the rest of the season. They play the Chicago Bears at US Bank Stadium on Sunday. And it's a key match-up, particularly for the Bears because if the Vikings win, they go to 4 and 1 on the season. And the bears fall to 2 and 3. So very important game for both teams.

ERIC NELSON: Yeah, and Cathy, despite the fast start by the Vikings, the Purple Nation does not seem to happy. I don't think they are drinking the purple Kool-Aid because there's a lot of negativity out there on the Twitterverse, social media.

Yeah, and their cornerback, Chris Boyd, took to the Twitterverse earlier this week and basically said, fans should find another team to root for or cheer for 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 tease, but they rarely please. I mean, they've been let down and kicked in the gut so many times, we can't count that high. But right now in the parody-driven National Football League, the Vikings have the second best record. So I think you have to embrace it. A win is a win. 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 oh by the way, Gregg Joseph is the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Joseph kicked a career-high five field goals in London, including the game winner over New Orleans. And how fitting that the kickers were the main story over there in the UK, which is a soccer-obsessed nation. So I'm sure they love Gregg Joseph over there.

CATHY WURZER: It looks like they actually had a pretty good time, too. Now, remember you guys, I was talking about how I was worried about the Twins, even when they were in first place. 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 huge disappointment insofar as the fact that they were in first place for over 100 days. So Cleveland wins the division. But the Twins were in first place for like 101 days this summer. And yet they finish in third behind Chicago and behind Cleveland. And really Cleveland wins it going away.

Obviously, there are going to be changes in the off-season. What changes need to be made? What changes should be made? Those are the questions. They had a ton of injuries. But I still think-- and Eric and I have talked about this at length-- what is the cause of all these injuries?

Is it because they keep their players in bubble wrap, so to speak? They coddle. They have nap rooms. They have days off. I mean, you don't get that on championship teams. You really don't. And the Twins, they've been injured this year. There's no question. But what is the root cause of all those injuries?

One slice of good news, Luis Arraez, a batting champion. Despite the fact that he's been hurt, he actually played and denying Aaron Judge the Triple Crown. Now, he didn't deny him obviously his 62nd home run which came on 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've got a guy in Luis Arraez that I think will be here and helping them for a long time.

CATHY WURZER: See, Eric, I wonder here. Can I ask you about Rocco Baldelli, the manager?

ERIC NELSON: Yeah.

CATHY WURZER: There was so much bellyaching about him. He's so focused on metrics and these more technical things. What role does he play in all of this?

ERIC NELSON: Well, he's the manager. And he's the one who writes out the lineup card. But the guys above him in the front office, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, most people believe that Rocco is their puppet. And they tell him what to do. And he is literally tethered to analytics, which is basically going by the computer or the laptop or the surface or the tablet, whatever they're using in the dugout these days.

And I know in talking to a lot of former Twins, some old school, some not out of the game that long, they can't stand it. And I think it's a turnoff to fans. You need to manage in the moment. You need to go with your gut. There have been situations where a Twins' pitcher had a no-hitter like Joe Ryan did. And he gets yanked in the seventh inning.

There have been other instances where a guy was sailing along through five or six innings. But Rocco's computer tells him he can't face the lineup the third time around because analytics say they might get to him. And I just think people can't stand this.

They need to become a team that embraces grinding. They need to play through some injuries. As Wally said, they've had a ton, 32 guys on the injured list, the most in the American league this season. And I've just been told, Cathy, breaking news, they're not going to play at Target Field next year. They're going to play at the Mayo Clinic.

CATHY WURZER: Oh, a bad joke.

WALLY LANGFELLOW: Really bad.

CATHY WURZER: Yeah, I know. Thank you, Eric. Let's move on to the Wild, shall we, Wally?

WALLY LANGFELLOW: Yeah, they host Chicago in a preseason game tonight. Oh, by the way, they played them this past weekend in Milwaukee, first ever NHL game at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. Milwaukee--

CATHY WURZER: Really?

WALLY LANGFELLOW: --they've never had an NHL team. They have the Milwaukee Admirals, a minor league team. But they sold it out. So that was fun for the folks there. And apparently, most of the folks who were there based on computations from ticket sales via tracking their zip codes of who bought the tickets, most of the folks there were from Wisconsin. So that's good news. And maybe they'll raise an NHL flag in Milwaukee sometime.

But the Wild, as I said, host Chicago tonight. And then one week from tonight already, they will open the regular season on Thursday, October 13 at home against the New York Rangers. So the drop of the puck is right around the corner.

CATHY WURZER: Yes, it is. And there's also, of course, parks and soccer balls yet, Eric, to talk about with the Loons.

ERIC NELSON: Yeah, the marathon season known as Major League Soccer will wind up this weekend, the regular season. Then the playoffs will start a few days after that. And yeah, Minnesota United will host Vancouver on the pitch Sunday at Allianz Field in Saint Paul.

And Minn U is trying to qualify for the MLS playoffs. Right now, the Loons are the number seven seed. That would get you in. They have 45 points. But they are in a scrum with a couple of other teams. They only have a one point lead over Real Salt Lake. So Minnesota United really needs to take care of business and get themselves in the playoffs.

If they lose, the Loons could be out. And by the way, they are limping into this final stretch. Minnesota United winless in its last six matches. So it's been a yo-yo year, up, down, up, down, for Minn U. But they don't have much margin for error now.

CATHY WURZER: All right. OK, guys. I got to go. I hope you have a good weekend.

WALLY LANGFELLOW: Thank you.

ERIC NELSON: Thanks, Cathy. You too.

CATHY WURZER: That's Wally Langfellow and Eric Nelson. Wally is the founder of Minnesota Score magazine and the cohost of Ten Thousand Takes sports talk show. Eric is the other host of that show and the Minnesota Vikings' reporter for CBS Sports Radio's Eye on the NFL.

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