The chairman of the Turkey Committee made grandiose promises when he pushed through his agenda to increase access to the annual Thanksgiving Day banquet.
The Turkey Chairman stated numerous times that this new program would make the banquet available to countless people of modest means and without a company plan to help cover the cost of tickets.
Simultaneously, the chairman vowed there would be no impact on those with pre-existing seats at a table.
The 36th Thanksgiving feast arrives this afternoon and, frankly, we have no idea what in the wide, wide world of sports is going to happen. The chairman only can apologize again for the glitches that have taken place at affordableturkeytix.org.
Our website contractors haven’t been able to ascertain how people trying to confirm reservations or register for newly available banquet tickets are being diverted to a guy named Uygulamalavi requesting money in a foreign language.
I’m sure we’ll have it figured out by next Thanksgiving. Meantime, there’s one more piece of business before the roll call of Turkeys:
Committee members deliberated for several hours before declaring that Aaron Hernandez was ineligible to capture the 2013 Turkey of the Year. We decided that being indicted on a murder charge — and the possibility it wasn’t his first — gave the former Patriots tight end an unfair advantage.
Plus, how bad would people feel if they wound up in a higher position on the 2013 Turkey list than Aaron Hernandez?
Let’s proceed with the list of honored guests:
“Vodka Samm,” student, University of Iowa: This 22-year-old Hawkeye blew a blood alcohol level of .341 after a public intoxication arrest at an Iowa football game and lived to tell about it. The Committee actually has asked her to attend the banquet as a celebrity bartender.
Michael Hemesath, president, St. John’s University: Hemesath marked the departure of John Gagliardi after 60 seasons in Collegeville by saying: “Obviously, I understand winning is much more fun than losing for our athletes. But I’m not obsessed with building a winning program.” A beautiful sentiment from the St. John’s boss as the search was underway to replace the winningest coach in the history of college football.
David Arsenault, men’s basketball coach, Grinnell College: This is the sportsman who thinks it’s quite a giggle to have his star, Jack Taylor, score over 100 points against hapless, tiny Christian schools with the manpower of so-so high school teams.
Cliff Alexander, 6-8 basketball star, Chicago Curie High School: He was rated the nation’s No. 5 recruit. That mandated (by ego) that he hold a media event to announce his college choice. He faked putting on a hat for home-state Illinois, then went to a Kansas hat. And his papa, bedecked in shades, clearly loved the taunt. Classy kid, Jayhawks.
John and Nicole Grant, football fans from Tinley Park, Ill.: John is a Bears fan and Nicole is a Packers fan. They were in a bar in Mayville, Wis., watching those teams play on Nov. 4. The Bears won and John shocked his wife a couple of times with a stun gun. Police were called. They found evidence on Nicole’s cellphone with her saying she would allow herself to be zapped if the Packers lost. Alcohol was said to be involved.
“Sweet Pea,” hostess/entertainer, King of Diamonds in Miami: Bryant McKinnie was celebrating his birthday on a party bus. Nothing new in that. Sweet Pea came along. When one of McKinnie’s teammates with the Baltimore Ravens, Jacoby Jones, got a little fresh, Sweet Pea hit him over the head with a giant Ace of Spades bottle of champagne. An ambulance was required. Way to spoil McKinnie’s 34th birthday, Sweet Pea.
Tiger Woods, golfer: It was possible to stretch the imagination and give Woods the benefit of the doubt on his illegal drop at the Masters. When he dropped a ball 100 yards forward from the point it crossed the waterline a few weeks later at the Players Championship (which he won), there was a different conclusion: Being the most talented golfer in the history of mankind isn’t enough for Tiger. He’s willing to fudge the rules.
John and Andy Arlotta, owners, Minnesota Swarm: They sent out an e-mail begging fans for support, saying the financial model for their indoor lacrosse team “is not sustainable.” Listen, fellas, all make-believe sports that involve playing games in arenas that are intended to be played on fields — football, soccer, lacrosse, BASEketball — are ridiculous and deserve to be “not sustainable.”
Dirk Hayhurst, studio analyst, TBS baseball playoffs: It’s tough enough to remember these games are on TBS. And when you finally find one and encounter this dork in a bow tie pontificating … aaargh!
Rory McIlroy and Caroline Wozniacki, celebrity sports couple: They were cute together, except he couldn’t play golf and she couldn’t play tennis in 2013. There have been periodic reports that they might split up. If so, that might be good for both of them.
And now to get down to it:
Lester Bagley, chief stadium operative, Vikings: “We only have $975 million in the budget and there’s only so many things you can get under that number,” said Les Wants More in early October. Last week, the Vikings came up with another $26.4 million, which will put owner Zygi Wilf’s total cash outlay for a billion-dollar stadium after he collects seat license fees, naming rights and free NFL money at … ah, right around $26.4 million.
Vance Worley, (temporarily a) Twins pitcher: On Opening Day, he was the starting pitcher and “The Vanimal.” By mid-August, even the Rochester Red Wings wanted him out of sight and he was sent home.
Greg Jennings, Vikings receiver: Spent the late summer taking less-than-subtle cheap shots at Aaron Rodgers, his most recent quarterback in Green Bay. And then when Rodgers came to the Metrodome and lit up the Vikings, Jennings was on the field, postgame, trying to be the quarterback’s best pal. Nauseating.
Note: If you’re waiting for Richie Incognito and/or Alex Rodriguez, sorry to disappoint. The Committee didn’t want to invite those louts inside Minnesota’s borders.
The finalists are already among us, and all three hold power positions with big-league franchises.
Second runner-up, Flip Saunders, president for basketball operations, Timberwolves: Flip is an improvement on his predecessor, KAHN!, obviously, but two words put him in prestigious Turkey territory — Shabazz Muhammad. Or maybe three words — Michael Carter-Williams, the 6-6 player Flip didn’t draft at No. 9 rather than trading down.
First runner-up, Rick Spielman, Vikings general manager: It’s a fine mess you’ve gotten us into, Ricky. Josh Freeman? Why not give that $2.5 million to the pagan babies, as the nuns in grade school used to suggest for donations?
Turkey of the Year, Terry Ryan, general manager of the sunken ship that is Twins baseball.
He had to be dragged kicking and screaming after two horrendous seasons to pursue a competent big-league starter in Ricky Nolasco. This had been the Twins’ way since Ryan returned to the job in November 2011:
As for adapting to the changes in evaluation that have overtaken the game, the teams appearing in the World Series are on a six-lane freeway and the Twins are on a county road.
As for reacting to the ever-increasing Caribbean influence on the roster, the Twins’ one Spanish-speaking coach is a 61-year-old Texan assigned to the bullpen.
All this makes Terry Ryan the 2013 grand gobbler.
Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. firstname.lastname@example.org