Twins deserve sports spotlight this week

John Gilbert

Marshall defender Blake Bachand went high to clear a Duluth East threat with a header during East's 2-0 victory last week. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Marshall defender Blake Bachand went high to clear a Duluth East threat with a header during East's 2-0 victory last week. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Marshall goalkeeper Charlie Eginton got caught on the wrong side of the ball, but defender Blake Bachand moved in behind him to help out. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Marshall goalkeeper Charlie Eginton got caught on the wrong side of the ball, but defender Blake Bachand moved in behind him to help out. Photo credit: John Gilbert
 Marshall goalkeeper Charlie Eginton beat East attacker Nolan Haney to the ball and prepared to clear the area. Photo credit: John Gilbert
 Marshall goalkeeper Charlie Eginton beat East attacker Nolan Haney to the ball and prepared to clear the area. Photo credit: John Gilbert

Ordinarily, we would be focusing on the Minnesota Vikings, and their
next game to consume the interest of sports fans throughout the state,
while pretty much ignoring the Minnesota Twins. But this year, it’s
role-reversal time.

If you have a pulse, you must be captivated by the incredible season
the Twins have had, with what most of us considered a “who’s he?”
lineup from the start. T/he Twins took off, hit home runs in record
quantities all through the season, and won their division going away.
Winning 101 games is impressive, and that 101-61 mark could have been
a notch better if they’d won that final game, a 5-4 loss at Kansas
City. But in that game, C.J. Cron, Jake Cave, and Jason Castro all hit
home runs, giving the Twins a Major League record 307 for the season.
More importantly, the Yankees hit one home run in their final game, to
finish with 306.

Maybe that’s insignificant, but it’s one place, for sure, where the
Twins beat the Yankees. They will try to do it in the field, face to
face, Friday and Saturday in New York. Then the teams switch to Target
Field for Games 3 and 4, before returning to New York for Game 5, if
necessary. That’s right, the Twins make the playoffs, but their reward
is to go to New York and take on the dreaded Yankees.

To me, it doesn’t matter. We need to chill out, relax and watch the
playoffs for the sheer drama and excitement they are sure to provide.
Maybe it will be a duel of homers, maybe not. Could be most anything.
But these Twins have had a magical season, and if there was any way to
declare one playoff team a “Team of Destiny,” the Twins win. We can
hold our breath that the starting pitching is up to their best form.
But whatever happens, it’s been a sensational season.

Oh yeah, football. Now, if you like football as much as I do, then do
yourself a favor and tune in to the UMD Bulldogs, and any high school
team you can find playing in your neighborhood. And also, don’t
overlook that “rest-of-the-world” game of football — soccer. This is
the climax to the high school and college soccer season, and you can
find big games everywhere.

Stopping by Marshall’s field last week to catch Marshall’s very good
boys soccer team playing area power Duluth East, you had to enjoy the
chill of fall, and the scenery of Lake Superior glowing blue just down
the hill. The Greyhounds and Hilltoppers battled evenly until Mitchell
Boyson floated a pass over the last line of Marshall defenders and
Duncan Zentz was there, playing the pass ahead and scoring. Two
things: Scoring was no small feat, because Marshall goalkeeper Charlie
Eginton was outstanding, all game. Second, after the goal, I was
thinking that Zentz was in perfect position to get to that pass first,
because he was offside by about two strides!

The officials talked it over, and listened to Marshall’s agitated
coach Mike Sengbush, who saw what I noticed. No video, no replay, and
the goal stood. The game resumed and was even until late, when David
Wallerstein scored on Eginton for a 2-0 finish. I was glad that the
disputed goal was not the one that decided the game. Also, East had
the stronger team, but Marshall had Dakota Oman attacking all through
the game, only to be turned aside by East goalkeeper Anthony McHenry.
At the other end, Blake Bachand virtually covering the whole field for
Marshall on defense.

In football, UMD fell behind 7-0 at Bemidji State, tied the game 7-7,
then erupted on offense to bury the Beavers 42-7 in a battle of
unbeaten NSIC teams. The Bulldogs continue their rugged opening
schedule, after having survived St. Cloud State’s then-unbeaten
Huskies, and the 3-0 Beavers, now UMD gets to make the jaunt to
Mankato to face MSU-Mankato in a battle between the two divisional
leaders, and last remaining undefeated teams in the whole Northern
Sun. As an aside, the UMD volleyball team hit the road and won at
Concordia (3-0) and MSU-Mankato (3-1).

St. Scholastica made yet another incredible comeback to stay
undefeated atop the UMAC, and the Saints return home to play Martin
Luther, the defending UMAC champ, at 3 p.m. at Public Schools Stadium.
Last Saturday, the Saints trailed by 20 points with 17 minutes
remaining against Westminster College in Missouri. Zach Edwards went
to work and completed a 21-point rally with a 5-yard touchdown pass to
Eddie Lee with nine seconds remaining for an improbable 28-27 victory.
Edwards set a school record with 36 completions, guiding St.
Scholastica to a 4-0 record for the season, 2-0 in UMAC play.

And then there were the Vikings. This is getting tedious, and we can
only wonder why their 20 or so coaches can’t seem to figure it out.
The Vikings played an Atlanta team that couldn’t stop a Pop Warner
rushing attack, and they won their opener 28-12. Then they went to
Green Bay, which has a tough defense, and when they couldn’t run, Kirk
Cousins had his worst day at quarterback and the Vikings lost on his
up-for-grabs late interception 21-16. Next it was Oakland, another
team with a woeful defense against the run, and the Vikings romped
34-14.

Then came Sunday’s trip to Chicago to face the Bears — my pick to win
the division. It wasn’t pretty. Here is perhaps the best defense in
the league, and after one quarter, the Bears — already playing without
six injured regulars, including two starters on defense — lost
quarterback Mitch Trubisky on the first possession. At the end of one
quarter, Dalvin Cook, the league leading rusher, had carried five
times for a total of three yards.

Somebody named Chase Daniel, a journeyman backup, played brilliantly,
firing bullets to open receivers all over the field, and the Bears won
16-6. Daniels was 22-30 for 198 yards and a touchdown, with a 101.4
passer rating. Cook wound up getting the late Vikings touchdown from
the 2m, but gained only 35 yards on 14 carries. Cousins was 27-36 for
no touchdowns and a 91.6 rating. The guy on TV said that Cousins
hadn’t been sacked all season, so the Bears sacked him. At halftime,
they again mentioned that he was sacked for only the first time all
season, so the Bears sacked him five more times in the second half.

So we have the scenario in front of us. If the Vikings play a team
they can run against, they’ll win, and the New York Giants this
weekend might be the perfect tonic. If they play a team that stops the
run and forces Cousins to pass and maybe even scramble to pass, the
Vikings have no chance.

Fortunately for the Vikings and their baffled followers, the rest of
the division is more than just wide open. The Detroit Lions should
have beaten Kansas City’s heavily favored Chiefs but fell just short,
so they are 2-1-1, while the Bears and Green Bay Packers are both 3-1.
The Vikings, at 2-2, are in last place. The Packers had a highly
entertaining battle with Philadelphia, which got a healthy Carson
Wentz going for three touchdowns and a 113.2 rating, while Aaron
Rodgers was 34-53 for 422 yards and two touchdowns, with a 93.4
rating.

A 2-2 record isn’t the end of the world for the Vikings, but all I can
say is…Go Twins!