Minnesota Now with Cathy Wurzer

Twins look to come out on top in series against Rays, Willie Mays’ Minneapolis connection

Rays Twins Baseball
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Joe Ryan reacts after a solo home run by Tampa Bay Rays' Isaac Paredes during the third inning of a baseball game Wednesday in Minneapolis.
Abbie Parr | AP

The Minnesota Twins are in a tough series against the Tampa Bay Rays. Baseball legend Willie Mays has died, and the beginning of his career brought him to Minneapolis.

Plus, we’ll take a look at the Minnesotans vying to be in Paris this summer for the Olympics.

Joining us to break down this sports news is Wally Langfellow and Eric Nelson. Langfellow is the creator of “Minnesota Score” magazine and is the host of the “Ten Thousand Takes” sports talk show. Nelson co-hosts that show; he’s the Minnesota Vikings reporter for CBS Sports’ “Eye on Football” show.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

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Audio transcript

CATHY WURZER: Right now, the Twins are at Target Field for a tiebreaking game in their series against the Tampa Bay Rays. Wally Langfellow and Eric Nelson are here with the latest on the Twins and other Minnesota sports news. Both guys do Ten Thousand Takes sports talk show on radio and TV. Gosh, it seems like forever since I've talked to you guys. How are you?

WALLY LANGFELLOW: Well, that's because you've been on vacation for like a month. What are you talking about?

ERIC NELSON: It wasn't raining the last time we talked.

CATHY WURZER: That is true. And now, some of us are building arks. I don't know. So, hey, Tampa Bay and the Twins, this three-game series at Target Field. What's happening right now? Wally?

WALLY LANGFELLOW: Well, they're finishing up the series this afternoon. The Twins have just tied it in the bottom of the second inning. Now, Tampa has-- I take that back. Tampa has now taken the lead in the top of the third just moments ago.

Twins got their run on an RBI double by Kyle Farmer with two outs in the bottom of the second. He's been struggling this year at the plate, so it's good to see him come up with a big two-out hit. And he brought home Carlos Santana, who actually has been very good for the Twins of late.

Carlos came over after playing Pittsburgh, Kansas City. I mean, he's bounced around the last couple of years. And I think there were some folks wondering whether he was going to be able to contribute this year as he is up in age. I think Carlos is about 37, maybe 38 years old.

But he has come on lately. He's had a couple of big home runs in the last week or so. He's hitting over 240 now, so it's good to see him on track. And as a leader, that age group, that really helps.

Now, I looked at the lineup today and the Twins-- no Byron Buxton today and no Carlos Correa. I wonder what Cal Ripken thinks about guys that-- these are like scheduled days off.


WALLY LANGFELLOW: They're not injured. They're just scheduled days off. Yeah, that would drive me crazy. I know Kirby Puckett always-- and Tom Kelly always made sure Kirby was in the lineup for home games. If you're going to take a day off-- and they took very, very few-- you take it off on the road, right? You don't take it off at home.

Well, so Correa and Buxton out of the lineup today. Twins are losing right now. That's 2-1 on the third. They lost last night, 3-2, in extra innings to Tampa. They had come off a nice win streak.

They had won, they won the last game of their previous series. And then they beat four in a row, took Oakland, and they won the first game. So they had a six-game winning streak, but that came to an end last night. Hopefully, they can get back on track today. They trail 2-1 right now in the third inning of play.

CATHY WURZER: Getting back to this day off thing, I don't know if you guys read Aaron Gleeman with The Athletic and he's got his own podcast. And he was talking about Rocco Baldelli, was talking about the importance of giving players days off to avoid wearing them down. And then, I guess, Rocco turned to Justin Morneau and said, hey, did you ever play all 162 games? And Justin says, I played 163.


I mean, in terms of--


CATHY WURZER: Is that-- but Eric, I mean, is this a trend or something nowadays to maybe just back off and not coddle players? But is take better care perhaps. That makes sense?

WALLY LANGFELLOW: Coddle is the right word. Coddle is the right word, Cathy.

ERIC NELSON: I've said for a long time that-- and I think the Twins are the poster team for doing this. They put their guys in bubble wrap and they overprotect. Look, it is a grind. It's a 162 games. You throw in spring training where you might play 30 more. And if you're lucky, you get to the postseason and play extra games.

But that said, you need to be able to show up to the ballpark with your lunch pail, so to speak, and embrace the grind. And I can't imagine being a hypercompetitive athlete and going to the ballpark and not wanting to play. And I think this is something the Twins and other teams in Major League baseball have fostered.

We see it in the NBA. It's called load management in the NBA. I call it a load of fertilizer. I've gone to games at Target Center thinking I'm going to see somebody like Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee, the Greek freak, or maybe James Harden in Philadelphia. And they don't play. And they only make one trip a year to Minneapolis.

So I think it's ridiculous. And I think it sets an artificial bar that these guys now say, oh, well, maybe I don't really need to play in 162. I'll shoot for 140. The Twins would be thrilled if Byron Buxton plays in 120 this year.

WALLY LANGFELLOW: Boy, that's for sure.

CATHY WURZER: As we're talking about baseball, you guys, Willie Mays died, of course, at 93. And he had this Minneapolis connection, played for the old Minneapolis Millers, right?

ERIC NELSON: Yeah, you're exactly right, Cathy. May spent a brief time in Minneapolis. He played 35 games in 1951 with the Triple-A Millers, who were the farm team of the then New York Giants. They later moved to San Francisco.

And Mays was like a comet blazing through the sky. I mean, he wasn't in Minnesota long, but boy, did he give the fans a glimpse of his superstar talents. His batting average in those 35 games, 477, eight home runs, 30 RBI, 38 runs scored.

Oh, by the way, if you're wondering where Mays stayed while he was in Minneapolis, the house was located at 3616 4th Avenue South. So he wasn't here long, but you could see what he was going to become. And that was one of the greatest players ever in the history of Major League baseball.

CATHY WURZER: And that house, by the way, is still standing right behind the Hosmer Library in Minneapolis, being the Minneapolis native as I am. Say Wally Langfellow, you know that I love the Olympics. The trials are underway. And I especially love swimming. Regan Smith, that was so much fun to watch her.

WALLY LANGFELLOW: Yeah. She set a world record, a world record in the 100 backstroke at the US Olympic trials. She did it in 57.13 seconds, so she is onto her second Olympics. So congratulations to her. Of course, she is from Lakeville. And she's become a household name in the swimming community certainly here in the state of Minnesota and now, obviously, on a national and an international stage.

Another young lady in the pool is going to the Olympics. Sarah Bacon. She's a five-time NCAA champion for the Golden Gopher. She partnered with Kassidy Cook to claim a spot on the US Olympic team in the three meter synchronized springboard event. So she will be headed to Paris.

As far as the gymnastics, that will be decided next weekend at Target Center. Suni Lee, of course, is going to be one of the favorites. That's the June 27 through the 30 at Target Center. She, of course, from the Twin Cities and the US gymnastics.

The Olympic trials will be here at Target Center. So a little hometown flavor for Minnesota. One other Olympian that I wanted to mention, Dakota Lindwurm, the marathoner.


WALLY LANGFELLOW: She is from Saint Francis, Minnesota. She will also be headed to the Olympics.

CATHY WURZER: We'll talk to you guys next week. Thanks so much.

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