Two media members break one of industry’s cardinal sins

Ran across this story today about Tim Tebow. I know, I know. You’re tired of Tebow, but this story isn’t what you think.

Tebow reportedly was asked for and provided autographs to two members of the media following a weekend exhibition game.

I’m surprised I hadn’t heard about this until now. This is just a no-no. It’s part of being in the media.

I’ve gotten the opportunity during my relatively brief journalism career to meet the likes of Cy Young winner Johan Santana, NASCAR Cup series champion Kurt Busch and NHRA legend – and at one time, TV reality series star – John Force. And at no point did I ever think about seeking autographs from these guys.

Whether or not the two media members have their identity revealed doesn’t really matter to me. I’m just surprised in a major market that something like this would happen.

Twins in great shape entering series with ChiSox

Kevin Slowey and the Minnesota Twins may not have gotten their no-hitter Sunday. But a win against the A’s combined with Detroit’s victory against the White Sox, and the Twins find themselves with a three-game lead in the AL Central.

Slowey tossed seven no-hit innings, but combine an escalating pitch count with the fact that he didn’t make his last start due to elbow soreness, and the Twins made the right call pulling him from the start.

Jon Rauch made things interesting before Jesse Crain and Matt Capps nailed down the victory.

Sore elbow aside, Slowey has pitched extremely well as of late. He’s allowed five runs in his last four starts, and four of those runs came when he unraveled in the eighth inning of his last start against Tampa Bay.

The Twins have a day off Monday, then open a big three-game series with second-place Chicago. The Twins have a chance to stomp on the throats of the White Sox, but at the same time, a ChiSox sweep would even up the division.

News doesn’t seem to get much better for injured first baseman Justin Morneau, who suffered a concussion about six weeks ago. He’s still yet to have a symptom-free day since the concussion. Morneau was a no-doubt MVP contender at the time of the injury.

Somehow, the Twins have gotten hot without him, just like they did in September last year when Morneau was sidelined for the season with a bad back. But Morneau makes Minnesota a better team, and his void is not easily filled.

I’ve said before that I was thinking Sept. 1 at the earliest was when Morneau would play again. Now, I’m starting to wonder if even that is optimistic. At this point, I think Twins fans should cross their fingers and hope he’s back in late September for a run in the postseason, assuming the Twins get there.

The upcoming series will play a big role in whether or not they do get there.

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How much is too much?

I was surfing inforum.com today and was somewhat surprised to see among the most commented stories on the website is one written a week ago about Southern Illinois head football coach Dale Lennon.

It should be noted that since revamping the AreaVoices site, recent articles aren’t allowing comments until a few kinks are worked out on our end. So there’s a reason a story from a week ago is still among the most commented.

However, 11 comments on a story like the Lennon one shocked me, so I figured I’d take a look at them.

No surprise at all that some of the 11 liked the story and some of the 11 hated it.

Those opposed to a story on a former area coach who now leads what is expected to be the top program in the conference that another local college plays in say that Lennon is winning with the former coach’s players (a fair argument, in my opinion). Another person writes that The Forum isn’t “objective towards NDSU.”

When talking to readers, most are generally satisfied with the content. But a newspaper is in the public eye, so everyone has something they would do differently with it, myself included.

And this is not an NDSU thing. Actually, more often than not, talk of a “bias” one way or the other is usually regarding our high school coverage.

Anyone who has worked at a newspaper long enough has taken the phone calls. “The Forum favors such-and-such high school” or “The Forum is biased against such-and-such high school.” I’ve been in the office and gotten each of those calls about the same high school on the same day.

You get a few at the college level too, but not that many.

What is interesting about this particular instance is the timing of it. The Lennon story ran stripped on the sports cover on Monday, Aug. 9. The previous three days starting Thursday, Aug. 6, The Forum’s sports section centerpieced NDSU football.

After three straight days of centerpiecing NDSU football, at least one person commenting said the Lennon story shows that The Forum is biased against NDSU.

Examples like this illustrate what editors and reporters have known for a long time: There simply isn’t enough coverage to satisfy readers. A four-page section entirely about NDSU football (undoubtedly the biggest beat The Forum has during the fall) would have some fans asking for six pages, while other subscribers will say that there’s too much Bison football in the newspaper.

I’m the same way. I like reading about the Minnesota Twins. Do I wish the Minneapolis Star Tribune had even more of the already outstanding coverage that they provide? Of course.

As far as The Forum is concerned, it’s important we continue to recognize what the biggest beats are, while at the same time striking a balance.

Future Hall of Famer may be finished

Chipper Jones will undergo surgery on a season-ending knee injury he suffered earlier this week. Whether or not Jones will ever wear a big league uniform again is yet to be determined.

The loss of the 38-year-old third baseman is a big blow to the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves. And at his age, there’s no guarantee the Braves lifer will play again.

Chipper has had an impressive career in Atlanta dating back to his major league debut in 1993. He was the NL MVP in 1999 and led the Braves to postseason berth after postseason berth, including their lone World Series title in 1995.

The Braves could have a very different look next season, with longtime manager Bobby Cox already saying that he will retire after this season.

Jones is a career .306 hitter with 436 career homers, which are third-most in big league history for a switch-hitter (Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray are ahead of him). He’s a no-doubter future Hall of Famer in my opinion when he chooses to retire. If this is it for him, Jones and Ken Griffey Jr. would help make for quite a HOF class in five years.

Twins win this round, but war is not over

The Minnesota Twins moved into the driver’s seat in the AL Central race on Thursday night, defeating the Chicago White Sox 6-1. The Twins took 2 of 3 in the series, giving them a one-game lead in the division over the ChiSox.

Encouraging to see the Twins offense take advantage of a few opportunities. Francisco Liriano pitched in and out of a few jams in the fifth and sixth innings, with a little help from reliever Matt Guerrier.

It is only mid-August, but you can’t discount victories like this one. The Twins were considered favorites by many to win the AL Central before the season. And for whatever reason – blame Joe Nathan‘s injury, blame Justin Morneau‘s concussion, blame whatever – Minnesota just hasn’t been able to pull away. Do they lack a killer instinct, or were they just not as good as we all thought? Whatever the case, the Twins would rather be a game up than a game back, and that’s where they find themselves.

Now, the Twins head back to Target Field for a three-game set against the Oakland Athletics. The A’s, if you remember, jump-started the Twins last year.

On Sunday, Sept. 6, 2009, the Twins were a couple games below .500 and wrapping up a home series against Oakland at the Metrodome. This was the first game of Morneau’s season-ending departure from the team due to injury. This was also the last game – as of now – of Joe Crede‘s big league career.

But the Twins pummeled the A’s thanks to the pitching of Brian Duensing, and from then on Minnesota rolled, rallying to win the AL Central after taking a one-game playoff against the Detroit Tigers.

The A’s this year are hanging around the AL West, but all can agree that division belongs to Texas barring an epic collapse.

Brouhaha breaks out at Vikings camp

Things got a little heated at Minnesota Vikings camp today.

According to AP sports writer Dave Campbell, rookie running back Toby Gerhart and veteran defensive end Ray Edwards got into a bit of a tussle, which resulted in defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier getting in Edwards’ face.

I haven’t heard any more about it. These types of things happen in camp all of the time. The only question is usually whether or not anyone ever finds out.

Two games in, and a predictable split

No big surprises after the first two games of a pivotal Minnesota Twins-Chicago White Sox series.

Each team has taken a game at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. The White Sox put up a crooked number against Twins starter Glen Perkins on Wednesday night. Perkins was making his first start in the big leagues in over a year.

And so a first-place tie atop the American League Central will be broken on Thursday, when the two teams meet for the final game of the three-game set. The Twins send lefty Francisco Liriano to the mound to face right-hander Gavin Floyd.

Twins fans have to be a little concerned about Liriano, who got roughed up his last time out, then complained to manager Ron Gardenhire that he was suffering from “dead arm.”

On the radio today

Got my weekly Wednesday appearance on “Sports Talk” from 1-2 p.m. today on 970-AM WDAY.

Joining me in studio will be Ben Karkela of The Forum.

We’ll talk about a pair of big victories last night. The Minnesota Twins and Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks both picked up wins Tuesday to move into first place in their leagues/divisions.

One guest we have lined up today is Jeremiah Piepkorn, who rejoined the team Monday. We’ll talk to him about last night’s victory and his decision to comeback.

As always, you can take part in the show by calling (701) 293-9000 or (800) 279-9329 or e-mail talk@wday.com

The anatomy of a lopsided trade

It’s one year to the day that the Minnesota Twins got Carl Pavano in a trade from the Cleveland Indians. And let’s face it, if Twins GM Bill Smith applies for another big league job, this trade will be at the top of his resume.

On Aug. 7, 2009, the Twins acquired Pavano in exchange for minor league pitcher Yohan Pino.

This is what Pavano has done since the trade: 35 starts, 19-11 record, 3.70 ERA.

And the most important stat might be this: Pavano’s average start in that span has lasted 6 2/3 innings.

The guy has been a workhorse since coming over. And considering Pino boasts a 5.87 ERA in 20 starts for Cleveland’s Triple-A team, this was a fleece job.

But the net worth from the Pavano trade doesn’t stop there. The right-hander is a free agent after the season, and it seems unlikely the Twins would retain him (though others may disagree).

Pavano remains in very good position to net the Twins a first-round pick and a compensatory pick should they offer him arbitration after the season and he chooses not to accept. 

Quite a haul for a struggling minor leaguer.