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Minnesota sports, as seen elsewhere

Say goodbye to some Twins rivalries under this baseball expansion plan

If you haven't noticed, Major League Baseball hasn't added any teams since 1998. That's the longest stretch without new teams since baseball added four teams, including the Twins, in 1961 and 1962. The prevailing wisdom for most of that time is that baseball had run out of cities that could sustain new franchises.

But, as a recent story in Baseball America pointed out, there's an ownership group in Portland, Ore., that's being taken seriously and Commissioner Rob Manfred has talked about another West Coast team being part of any plan to expand. In addition, there's a push to bring a team back to Montreal, which lost the Expos to Washington in 2005.

So what could that mean for the Twins?

In the Baseball America story, Hall of Fame baseball writer Tracy Ringolsby cited a plan that would address concerns about the demand of travel and the lack of days off in the current 162-game schedule.

Here's where it could get, ummmm, interesting for the Twins.

Ringolsby writes: "One proposal would be to geographically restructure into four divisions, which would create a major reduction in travel, particularly for teams on the East Coast and West Coast, and add to the natural rivalries by not just having them as interleague attractions, but rather a part of the regular divisional battles."

What about the Twins, though?

The plan cited by Ringolsby includes a Midwest Division that would include the Cubs, White Sox, Colorado, Houston, Kansas City, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Texas.

Is there a team missing from the "Midwest?"

That would be the ... Twins.

You could find them in the North Division with the Yankees, Mets, Toronto, Montreal, Boston, Cleveland, Detroit.

In other words, the current Royals rivalry, a reignited Brewers rivalry and the potential for twice-a-year road trips to Wrigley Field and Busch Stadium wouldn't happen because the Twins would be one of two teams pushed out of their natural geographic reasons to make the plan work.

It wouldn't be an unprecedented twist of pretzel logic: Think of Atlanta being in the National league West before the current baseball set-up, or the Minnesota Wild's place in the previous NHL alignment, in which they were going to the West Coast and western Canada more often than playing Chicago and St. Louis.

The plan cited by Ringolsby includes a 156-game schedule, an expanded round of playoffs and days off every week.

On the Twins, he writes that the plan "would drastically reduce travel, while keeping teams in their time zones, except for the Rockies and Twins. They, however, would be playing teams in a time zone an hour earlier, which is less demanding than an hour later, and also provides increased TV ratings because of prime time viewing. The other intra-division teams would have to travel to Colorado or Minnesota just six games per year."

What do you think, Twins fans? Earlier starting times for most road games and more games against the Yankees and Red Sox in exchange for losing a busload of opportunities for Twins fans to take car trips to some of baseball's best road venues ... and for fans of those teams to make similar trips to Target Field?

Does this sound to anyone else like a trade that wouldn't be good for the Twins?

You can read Ringolsby's full story, which includes the reasons it would make sense for many other franchises, here.

 
 
 

Reborn as a Cardinal? A look at Adrian Peterson's Arizona debut

After being unwanted in Minnesota and mostly unused in New Orleans, Adrian Peterson got another chance to be a big deal on Sunday when he made his debut with the Arizona Cardinals, who'd acquired him earlier in the week in a  trade with the Saints for a sixth-round draft choice.

Peterson scored two touchdown and ran for 134 yards as Arizona jumped to a huge lead and then held off Tampa Bay 38-33. The stars of the game were Arizona's mature guys -- Peterson, 32; former Holy Angels star Larry Fitzgerald, 34, and quarterback Carson Palmer, 37.

"I know how to coach old guys," coach Bruce Arians joked.

In the game's first three minutes, Peterson ran for 53 yards and scored a touchdown. The initial returns are that the Cardinals, after trying several other options, finally have a suitable replacement for injured star David Johnson, who broke his wrist in the first game of the season.

 

 

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic declared that Peterson's arrival could be a season-saver for the Cardinals: "He turned a desperate team into a dangerous team. He helped a disappointing offense locate its missing dominance. He triggered a 21-point outburst on Arizona’s first three possessions, more than the team had scored in any of its previous five games. He raised the level of intensity on the Arizona sideline, the effort of the offensive linemen and the level of respect on the other side of the field. He provided much-needed balance to a team that was growing old and stale, and now anything seems possible.If he could play defensive back as well, you might think the Super Bowl was back in play."

Read the full column here.

On espn.com, Josh Weisfuss wrote: "Now that the Cardinals have revitalized their run game, they'll start seeing different coverages, Arians said. That'll make Palmer's dropbacks easier and less contested. That'll give him more time. That'll ignite the vertical passing game again. Arizona's offense, perhaps more than most, is intertwined. The running game begets the passing game, which begets the running game. On Sunday, it all was triggered by Peterson."

Read his full story here.

On si.com, Ben Baskin wrote about how Peterson met the challenge of quickly picking up a new offense:  "On his flight down to Arizona, he was going through the Cardinals offense, and Peterson later said the playbook was so complex that it looked like a foreign language to him. But he stayed up till 3:30 that night studying and hasn’t stopped since. He came into this game feeling confident that he had already learned most of the complex scheme, the third he’s been playing in just this past year. A few times in the huddle on Sunday, Carson Palmer went to remind the new back of his assignment and Peterson cut him off and told him that he was good, he got it. 'He picked it up so fast,'  the quarterback says. 'I’m excited to see the wrinkles that [coach Arians] builds into the offense because we haven't had Adrian Peterson. And there is only one of those.' "

The full story is here.

And here's a Fantasy Football perspective from the New York Post: "If you drafted him and kept him, suddenly you have a useable impact player. If you grabbed him off waivers at some point, you have found a cheap gem. And if somehow, some way, he still is available (which is unlikely), empty your free agent budget, use your precious waiver claim. Here’s a preview of what is to come: Next week, the Rams, who allow the second-most fantasy points to RBs (and that is before factoring in Week 6 which included a long TD run by Leonard Fournette). After a bye, the 49ers, who are third-worst against RBs. Then it gets tougher, and like we said, we expect late-season regression. So ride him next week, sit on him through the bye, use him in Week 9, then trade him before your league’s deadline."

The full fantasy analysis is here.

And finally, there's this point of view from the New Orleans Saints' Who Dat Dish blog, chiding the national media for all of the attention paid to Peterson while the Saints scored 52 points in beating Detroit on Sunday: "If you read the Bleacher Report Saints feed and had to drink every time you saw an Adrian Peterson article on Sunday you might be dead. Well, maybe not with the tolerance of a New Orleanian, but you get the point. It’s a shame the Saints felt the need to pursue Peterson when it never seemed like a good move. But that’s in the past. Or, at least Who Dats are hoping it can be put in the past. Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara are studs and they proved it against the Lions. All of this Peterson talk is just a distraction from what they’re doing. Who Dat Nation is just fine with winning however their team gets there. But please national media, give us a break. How about paying attention to what the Saints are doing, not what they’ve done."