TFD: Looks like ex-Viking WR Greg Jennings is about to find a new team (update)

When the Vikings traded for Mike Wallace a few weeks back, people immediately wondered what would happen with Greg Jennings. The answer came quickly, when the team announced it was releasing the veteran WR, who was well-liked in his two years here but didn’t produce like a top-end receiver.

The parting was amicable, and Jennings even released a statement thanking the team and fans.

It seems as though Jennings is about to find gainful new employment. He tweeted this on Tuesday:

While Jennings didn’t leave any clues about where he is headed, Miami has been considered a possible landing spot. It would be interesting if he and Wallace essentially trade places — after both signed as free agents with the Vikings and Miami, respectively, in 2013.

UPDATE: OK, maybe Jennings isn’t really signing somewhere else soon. The whole series of tweets, which kept building throughout Tuesday night, culminated in a lame April Fools’ Day joke. Let’s all go back to not particularly caring where Jennings winds up, at least until it actually happens.

Good read: Twins P Trevor May and the art of being ‘present’

trevormayThree weeks ago, I saw a tweet from Trevor May, a Twins pitching prospect who was in camp at the time (and has since been sent down to Class AAA Rochester). It read, simply:

Consistently being mindful and present is the most underrated skill a person could have.

As someone who has dabbled in the areas of meditation and mindfulness — dipping toes in the water and wanting to jump in further when I can — it struck me as interesting on both a personal level and professional level. I jotted it down as a possible future story idea.

While I might still ask May about it at some point if/when he makes it to the big league club for good, Al Melchior from CBS Sports was seemingly curious as well and has a great piece on May that answers a lot of my questions. Here’s a sampling of what May does in attempt to stay in the moment:

That entails a daily meditation practice, which normally involves sitting or laying down for periods of 10-to-20 minutes, doing nothing but breathing and noticing what he notices. This isn’t just recharging in order to deal with the demands of being a professional ballplayer. For May, this is a form of practice in the same way that a bullpen session is practice. These extended periods of silence prepare May for the emotional ups and downs of pitching in game situations. He sees his ability to stay even through these emotional waves as an even more critical factor to his success than the actual execution of his pitches.

To understand the importance of May’s mindfulness practice to his performance, it helps to understand how he approaches in-game situations. He views every pitch as a three-step process. First, he determines what pitch he wants to throw and where to throw it. Second, he gets his mind in a focused state. Third, he executes the pitch. So while Yogi Berra said 90 percent of the game is half mental, May’s game is two-thirds mental. And if the first two steps of pitching — the mental steps — aren’t executed properly, the physical work of making the actual pitch is all for naught.

The extended story delves deeper into May’s ups and downs, while also taking a look at the mental side of sports as an emerging frontier. It’s worth a read, for sure, whether you are casually interested about May or more deeply interested in the larger topics broached.

Tuesday (Old football cards, old gum) edition: Wha’ Happened?

ronnielottSaturday-Monday was three-day birthday extravaganza. Saturday we celebrated my wife Julie’s birthday; Sunday we celebrated our daughter Anabel’s first birthday. And Monday, I took the day off and the three of us spent a family day together since Monday was both Julie and Anabel’s actual birthday.

It was a great three days, and both of them received a great many gifts. Anabel received a Jeff Skinner Carolina Hurricanes doll that she refers to as “dada,” and quite frankly it does look look a lot more like me than it looks like him.

One of the gifts for Julie came from Dana Wessel and his special lady friend, Heather. It was a perfectly lovely and normal gift, but it also came with a special bonus: a pack of football cards.

Julie opened the gift late Saturday, after her party, and I was drawn immediately, of course, to the idea of football cards. She opened the pack, and I blurted out, “Is there gum!?” It was a pack of Topps, that was all I could see for the moment, and yes there was gum.

I grabbed the stick; sports card gum is almost always chalky and firm, so I thought nothing of it when this felt particularly chalky and firm. I immediately popped it in and started to chew, noticing that it strangely began disintegrating in my mouth.

“This will get better in a few seconds,” I thought.

And then I started to look through the pack of cards. … Wow, this player can’t possibly still be in the league can he? … Whoa, Ronnie Lott? Nice! But he retired forever ago. Then I finally looked at the FRONT of the package.

These weren’t your average, everyday football cards that you would pick up at a convenience store. This was a pack of cards from 1989. That meant the cards were awesome … but the gum, which was in fact NOT improving but only getting worse by the second, was 26 years old.

Immediately I ran to the kitchen sink and spit out the tiny fragments of chalky, cardboard-esque football card gum. I think I could still taste it 24 hours later.

Moral of the story: if Dana Wessel (or anyone, really, but probably Dana Wessel) gives you a pack of football cards, always check the year first before you try the gum.

Friday ($19 bloody Mary at Target Field, with pizza slice) edition: Wha’ Happened?

Expensive novelty food items seem to be the rage at sports stadiums these days. The Arizona Diamondbacks revealed a $25 corn dog last year. The Texas Rangers unleashed a $26 hot dog a few years ago. The Packers sell a $20 hamburger.

Not to be outdone, Hrbek’s at Target Field will now offer a $19 bloody Mary.

Per a tweet from former Twins great Kent Hrbek himself, displaying some of the new items his spot will carry this year, here’s more about the “College Daze Bloody Mary”:

“This bloody Mary will bring back the memories (or not)! This cool bloody Mary gets a cold slice of pepperoni pizza, which is just what you need with a bloody Mary! If that wasn’t enough, you get all the other fixings! Beef stick, pepper jack and cheddar cheese cubes, pepperoncini, olive, celery and a pickle spear. Served with a Bud Light beer back.”

We have to admit, it looks kind of amazing. That said, it’s hard to imagine spending $19 on a bloody Mary, novelty or not. Is it crazy to charge that much, or are you tempted to try it?

‘Vikings bricks’ web site inspires unintended Twitter consequences

You can buy a “legacy brick” with a commemorative inscription to be placed inside the new Vikings stadium. This kind of thing isn’t new; in this case, it isn’t cheap: anywhere from $160 to $360, depending on the size and type of brick you want.

A lot of Vikings fans will likely be into this. They’ll want to have a family message — perhaps a deceased loved one who was a big purple fan — or some such thing. This is the intended target audience.

However: there is a feature on the site that suggests:

Not sure what to put on your brick? CLICK HERE to test your inscription on a live Minnesota Legacy brick and see what others are putting on theirs.

And this is where Twitter has decided to take over. Nick Halter from Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal appears to be the one who started the #VikingsBricks hashtag on Twitter. From there, the clever (and some not so clever) folks took over with their own personalized inscriptions for the Vikings, which they then posted for the world to see. Here are some of the best/worst (at least of the printable ones), depending on how you want to look at it. The Vikings, to their credit, appear to be enjoying the fun, too.

“Hughes the Force” bobblehead at the center of Twins’ Star Wars promotion

philhughesTwins pitcher Phil Hughes walked just 16 batters in more than 200 innings last season. The natural question: Was he using Jedi mind tricks?

Probably not is the only logical answer, though the Twins are not dispelling the notion. They are using Hughes as a focal point of their Star Wars promotion for a May 4 game against Oakland (Yes, that means you can say “May the fourth be with you,” but if you say it too much you will get punched).

There is a “Hughes The Force” bobblehead giveaway (yes, another pun, but pretty clever), in which Hughes looks like a cross between a Jedi master and The Dude from Big Lebowski, which is actually pretty accurate.

The Twins do offer this disclaimer: While we encourage fans to come dressed in their favorite STAR WARS™ attire, please be advised that any props resembling firearms or weapons of any sort, fictional or not, will not be allowed into the ballpark. We kindly ask that you adhere to the policies in place at Target Field and respect the safety of all in attendance.

And the Twins put together a promo video, a remake of a Star Wars trailer.

Thursday (Belichick was right to rant about cameras) edition: Wha’ Happened?

Patriots coach Bill  Belichick reportedly went a profanity-laced tirade during a recent a meeting with NFL officials, blasting them for not wanting to spend the money to put cameras on the goal lines during games to help determine touchdowns on close plays.

He is, of course, correct (and it’s rather humorous to think of a coach who often comes across as dry, wearing his hoodies with sleeves cut off, yelling swear words at a bunch of NFL suits).

The NFL’s apparent argument against the cameras is cost, which is ridiculous. Nothing is out of reach, cost-wise, in the NFL. Per ESPN.com:

The source said Belichick expressed concern that the league is willing to spend top dollar to send the Pro Bowl to Brazil and play regular-season games in London every season but doesn’t appear willing to spend the money to pay for the extra cameras it would take to cover all end zone angles to assist instant replay.

Belichick had a similar message when speaking to reporters, though he toned it down a bit.

It’s disappointing every year we can’t afford that, as a league,” Belichick told reporters Tuesday. “They brought that up as a concern. It was kind of surprising to hear that.”

Seriously. Spring for some cameras, NFL. Your commissioner makes more than $40 million a year. You can afford it.

The replay angles now are off-center, making it hard to truly tell if the ball has broken the plane. For something as important in a game as whether a play is a touchdown or not, investing in cameras shouldn’t be that difficult of a decision to make.

Vikings owner reportedly spent huge money on lavish Bar Mitzvah for son

Far be it from me to tell Vikings owner Mark Wilf how to spend his money. He has plenty of it, and he can do with it as he pleases.

Still, the details of his son Andrew’s Bar Mitzvah — the Jewish rite of passage that signals the beginning of manhood — are quite interesting, as reported by TMZ:

French Montana serenaded a bunch of 13-year-olds with a song celebrating cocaine. … Andrew the Bar Mitzvah boy made his entrance in a hamster ball with exploding confetti. And famed electric violinist Irene Fong did her thing in front of the crowd. We have no idea how much Wilf dropped on the shindig, but we know French’s going rate is $100k for private functions.

Hamster balls and six-figure entertainment? The only thing missing — at least as far as we know — was a camel. You only get that when you turn 30.

Wednesday (Dozier detractors still married to batting average) edition: Wha’ Happened?

dozierFew moves made by local teams — particularly the Twins — are universally hailed as smart decisions. But I really thought the news Tuesday that Brian Dozier had signed a four-year, $20 million deal with the Twins might be one of those exceptions. In addition to being win-win (Dozier gets security, the Twins get value), it showed a level of commitment to a very good player.

Silly me.

The comments section was, once again, set ablaze from every direction. Sure, there were some who praised the move. Others, however, barked everything from “overpaid!” to complaining about the Twins making a move they didn’t need to make to numerous digs at Dozier’s batting average.

It’s the last point on which we’d like to focus for a little while.

In an ideal world, Dozier wouldn’t hit in the .240s, like he has the past two seasons. He would instead hit in the .270s. (OK, in an ideal world every Twins hitter would bat 1.000, games would never end because nobody could get them out and eventually MLB would have to just step in and name them World Series champs. Dozier hitting .270 is more of the ideal realistic world).

There are reasons to believe that Dozier will settle in closer to that .270 range than his current .240s. He will mature as a hitter, continue to spray the ball more (last season, most of his line drives and ground balls went toward left field).

But even if Dozier never becomes more than what he is, he will be a very valuable hitter (and overall player) for the Twins. Among MLB second basemen last season, Dozier ranked 5th in on-base percentage — largely because he walked 89 times, far more than any other second baseman in the league. His OPS of .762 was fourth among 2Bs. And his WAR (wins above replacement) was fifth.

He’s an above-average player, and in a lot of very important categories he’s arguably elite. A better batting average would likely help all his other numbers, too (assuming it didn’t come at the expense of power), but there’s no reason he has to improve in that area to be valuable.

If he has four years over the duration of his $20 million contract that are similar to his 2014 season — FanGraphs says his 2014 season was worth more than that alone — the Twins will be very happy with their return on investment.

Tuesday (The ‘good riddance’ stage with Peterson) edition: Wha’ Happened?

petersonAdrian Peterson missed almost the entire 2014 season — though still made a lot of money — because he assaulted his 4-year-old child. Yes, we can call it that. Reckless assault is the misdemeanor charge to which Peterson pleaded, avoiding jail time.

The respectable course of action on Peterson’s part after that would have been contrition and a desire to make it right with a team and a fan base that was justified in its reactions to what happened.

Instead, Peterson and his representatives have behaved in the exact opposite way — having the gall to try to turn this into an opportunity to either get more money or force a trade, all the while trying (unsuccessfully) to portray Peterson as a victim in all of this.

It’s despicable. Whereas a lot of fans were willing to give Peterson a second chance, attempting to understand that he made a mistake based on unfortunate learned behavior, now public opinion has turned even more harshly against Peterson. We’ve reached the “good riddance” stage.

The final tipping point might be the comment from his agent, Ben Dogra, as quoted by ESPN.com on Monday night: “I don’t think it’s in Adrian’s best interest to play in Minnesota. Why would it be?”

What a gross, arrogant position.

The Vikings, of course, need to play this correctly (as they have so far). They need to maintain a public stance that they intend to keep Peterson. Under no circumstance should they give him a raise or a new contract — not now, after the way this has unfolded. Under no circumstance should they release him. Giving him a raise sends the wrong message, and keeping him in any way creates a cloud over the entire 2015 season. Releasing him brings nothing in return.

What they should do, and what they probably are doing, is quietly shop him to the highest bidder in a trade. They don’t need to be blown away by an offer. They just need to keep working until they get the best deal they can get.

And then they need to move on from one of the five greatest players to ever wear a Vikings uniform as fast as they can.