The citizens of the United States aged 18 and above have the task of determining a president on a quadrennial basis. Forty-two percent of those eligible chose not to participate earlier this month.
What would this country be like if the Turkey Committee were so lax in its duties? We don’t have the luxury of making our decision once every four years but are required to do so every Thanksgiving morning, year after year after year.
The gentleman recently elected as president of the United States (POTUS) spent much of last weekend complaining that his vice president was addressed with a message of hope from the stage, after attending the Broadway hit “Hamilton.”
You can be confident the Chairman of the International Turkey Committee (COITC) will never waste his energy on such an issue — one reason being that his vice chairman would not have the time for the frivolity of attending a play.
This isn’t some fly-by-night task for the committee. We go through small-group caucuses, preliminary votes and eventually choose from a ballot of candidates endorsed by varied factions.
We consider the endorsed candidates to be guests, because the Turkey of the Year process is not about shaming. The Chairman and his committee are here to provide future generations a historical perspective on a year that was, and to inspire our honorees to do better in their futures.
The committee uses a wraparound calendar, like the PGA Tour these days, so as the roll is called for this Thanksgiving feast, remember: While you’re shopping early on Black Friday morning, the Turkey Committee will have started the process for electing next year’s Turkey.
For now, we take our break for the 2016 Turkey Banquet, and proudly unveil the guest list. Gobble, gobble.
Blair Walsh, ex-Viking: St. John’s fans in Collegeville on Saturday were chanting “Blair Walsh, Blair Walsh” as the UW-Platteville kicker attempted PATs. This affirms that Walsh left us a legacy.
Ryan Lochte, U.S. swimmer: What a dummy. He told a tall tale to Mom and it became an international incident. Most sons learn from the Age of Reason to always keep the story simple and vague with Mom.
Yulia Efimova, Russia swimmer: With the Russian track and field PED cheats banned for the Rio Olympics, it was left to Efimova to be the face of Russian drug cheating. Lilly King called out Efimova, then beat her in the 100 breaststroke, providing the most worthy “USA, USA” chant of the Summer Games.
Arthur Caplan, bioethics professor at NYU: A quoted member of an international group of 150 scientists and medical experts calling for postponement or a move of the Olympics in fear of the Zika virus. Turned out, there were more mosquito bites in the Chairman’s backyard in those three weeks than in Rio.
Brenda Freese, Maryland women’s basketball coach: Brenda’s powerhouse team played an exhibition against Bluefield State and won 146-17, with a 72-0 advantage in the second half. Our old pal Brenda said the game allowed her team to “get rid of those jitters.”
Cheryl Reeve, Lynx coach: Lynx vs. L.A. Sparks was called by ardent WNBA followers the best final series in the league’s 20 years. Reeve, the losing coach, promptly poured buckets of cold water on that by complaining bitterly about the officials. Missed shot clock violation aside, the Lynx still had the lead when league MVP Nneka Ogwumike made the game-winning play.
Laquon Treadwell, Vikings rookie: So far, this lanky young man has made Troy Williamson look like Fred Biletnikoff.
Adam Eaton, White Sox outfielder: In March, he said the team had “lost a leader in Drake.” No, not the Canadian rapper but Drake LaRoche, the 14-year-old son of Adam LaRoche. Drake was told he no longer could constantly hang around in the clubhouse, so Adam LaRoche quit. If Drake really was a leader, he would’ve told the old man to keep playing.
Twins pregame ceremony, June 10: David Ortiz was in town with Boston for his last series here. The personal gift to Big Papi in the brief ceremony was a jar of peanut butter, presented by former Twins teammates who once had been involved in filling his underwear with peanut butter. This made the Papi send-off as classy as the rest of the Twins season.
Game 5, Dodgers-Nationals NLDS: The seventh inning took 1 hour, 6 minutes. Nats manager Dusty Baker changed pitchers six times in the top of the inning. Don’t let Cubs mania fool you; the nine-inning game that took 4:32 was the most important event in this postseason. Change or die, MLB.
Ryder Cup drunks: For all the wonderful work done by Hazeltine to host the Yanks vs. Euros, the desire of the PGA America and the European Tour to drain every dollar from the event put too many people on the course with too little golf to watch. So, a good hunk of the ticket holders — maybe a third of the 51,000 — drank and drank some more, drank so much they thought they were watching football. Brutal.
P.J. Willett: Speaking of loudmouths ... the brother of Masters champ Danny Willett wrote an essay insulting American golf crowds. Funny though it was, P.J. threw his brother to the baying, belching wolves at Hazeltine and ruined his brother’s Ryder Cup debut.
Minnesota-Crookston football: The Golden Eagles are in the Division II Northern Sun, a horribly unbalanced 16-team league. Crookston was 0-11 this season, gave up 591 points and was outscored by 395. The administration should be sheepish to continue this carnage.
Rutgers athletics: Scandals, horrible football, worse than that in men’s basketball, bottom feeders in more sports than not. Nice addition to the Big Ten, Commissioner Delany.
And now, drumstick please, as we introduce the finalists for selection as the 39th annual Turkey of the Year.
Second runner-up: Rick Pitino, Louisville basketball coach: As he did in 2009 during the lawsuit he faced over a sexual encounter, Pitino responded to the NCAA report on Louisville running hookers through the basketball dorm by quickly bringing up the death of his brother-in-law and friend, Billy Minardi, 15 years earlier on 9/11.
Pitino the Elder remains relentless as a manipulator, even as he’s gotten ridiculous.
First runner-up: Paul Molitor, Twins manager: OK, some of you wanted Terry Ryan in this spot, but as usual, the Turkey Committee was ahead of the curve — giving the big honor to Terry in 2013.
Plus, the departed general manager can’t make today’s banquet. He’s still occupied looking through his files to find the exact moment he agreed to sign Byung Ho Park as a DH and move Miguel Sano to right field.
Molitor almost pulled off the Grand Turkey, based on what came off as far too much tolerance for the dreadfulness exhibited by the worst team (59-103) in Twins history.
The manager allowed Sano to coast along overweight and happy, treated Joe Mauer as if he still was a star, watched more baserunning mistakes in an average series than he had made in a 21-year career ... on and on.
Through it all, he was the phlegmatic Minnesotan, as the Twins’ disappearing audience wanted some show of disgust. And now he’s back, and hopefully with a few embers of fire.
That takes us to the Grand Turkey. The Chairman and the Turkey Committee were able to come to a consensus early at the decisive gathering. We didn’t have to wait past midnight to see what Michigan was going to do.
The Turkey of the Year for 2016 is a large and costly entity:
Men’s Athletics at the University of Minnesota.
The male athletes provided the university with the worst basketball team in 120 years of the sport in 2015-16, the once-proud hockey team just won the second of its past 17 games vs. other Minnesota teams, the 2015 football team went 5-7 and reacted to a bowl bid as if it was deserved, and even last Saturday, there were fewer than 25,000 spectators in the stadium for a season-saving victory over Northwestern.
Also on the résumé of men’s athletics is the Xanax ring that was operating inside the wrestling team and wound up getting legendary coach J Robinson dismissed.
Oh, yeah. The fellows also had so many videos of sexual encounters floating around in the ether that the Turkey Committee was wondering if a couple of coaches had brought in Ray J as a motivational speaker.
Meantime, the women athletes at the U keep on winning and embarrassing no one.
We’re still trying to get athletic director Mark Coyle to show up today to receive the Grand Gobbler.
First, it would be good to hear his voice in public, and second, Coyle might enlighten Turkey Banquet attendees on his timeline for having an overall men’s program that the winning Gophers women can be proud of.