Reusse blog: A hellacious Saturday to be a sports fan

  • Blog Post by: Patrick Reusse
  • June 2, 2013 - 7:30 AM

Why is watching and following sports a greater pastime than ever before in this country? Because of days like Saturday, when there was something for everybody, either to be found live on television or, locally, to attend in downtown Minneapolis.

I did a morning radio show with Judd Zulgad on the frequency that the Strib labels as AM-1500. "Great day,'' Judd said, as soon as we signed off at noon. "I'm going to the ballpark to watch the Twins, and then it's a hockey doubleheader -- Blackhawks-Red Wings and Penguins-Bruins.''

Zulgad saw a dramatic win for the Twins, when they scored three in the ninth to beat Seattle 5-4. Ryan Doumit's two-run triple to the gap in right-center was the winner.

I went home for a few hours after radio. The first priority was to watch Tiger Woods conclude a 7-over 79 in the third round of the Memorial Tournament.

Tiger came to Jack Nicklaus' tournament in the midst of a return to greatness, with four wins in seven PGA Tour starts this season. His last start was a win in The Players at the TPC Sawgrass, a course that had been far from a favorite for him.

And now here he was at Muirfield Village, a track where he had won five times, shooting a 44 on his first nine holes (the back nine) and equaling the second highest round of his PGA Tour career.

This is what makes sports great: when the unexplainable unfolds.

There was a bit of that Target Field also. The Twins had ended a four-game win streak with a punchless effort against Seattle on Friday night, and they appeared to be going away meekly again in the rain on Saturday afternoon. And then -- a three-spot, and the best win of a season that will reach its one-third today.

By all accounts, Judd's hockey games were also full of intrigue, first with the Blackhawks' 2-1 victory over the defending champ L.A. Kings, and then with the Bruins' 3-0 wipeout of the favored Penguins.

I will have to take the word of others on the worthiness of the conference finals openers, being otherwise occupied on Saturday night. Primarily, I was covering the season opener for the Lynx at Target Center, while also trying to monitor the sixth game of the NBA's Eastern Conference final between underdog Indiana and the Miami Heat.

The mere use of those words -- 'Miami Heat'' -- almost makes your skin crawl, doesn't it?

 We haven't had more qualified villains at the top of a pro sports league in this country since the New York Yankees of the late '90s and into the early 2000s. It wasn't until Boston came from down 3-0 in the 2004 ALCS and humiliated 'em that you could say "Yankees'' without looking for a place to spit.

I've made peace with LeBron James and his histrionics in leaving Cleveland for Miami. He's such a stupendous player -- better than Jordan, in my opinion -- that it's impossible not to admire him.

Yet, I love it when the Heat lose, especially to a team such as the Pacers, missing Danny Granger all season, led by the ultimate warrior, David West, and by this season's revelations in Roy Hibbert and Paul George.

The Pacers won 91-77 to force a Game 7 on Monday night in Miami. The odds are long, but if the Pacers were to win ... well, America would be a better place, much like it is on any day Duke loses in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

The priority on Saturday night was authoring a column on Lynx-Connecticut Sun game. There was a decent crowd (maybe 8,000 actual) that once again included Kevin Durant, there to watch Monica Wright play for the home team. Neither of these attractive young folks are giving information on what's happening here, but it seems obvious we got the boyfriend-girlfriend thing going on.

Which is nice.

There was a loud reception from the the fans when Janel McCarville was introduced in the starting lineup. Big Mac was the second prodigal Gopher to return, joining Lindsay Whalen, who came home to play for the Lynx three years earliuer The first season back in 2010 was a wipeout, followed by a WNBA title in 2011, and a 3-1 loss to Indiana in the 2012 finals.

I've not your ranking Lynx expert, although I've covered a few games during this two-year run of excellence (following a first 12 seasons in which the franchise won precisely one playoff game). What I saw Saturday night was a team that's eight deep in first-class talent and playing a very entertaining style of basketball.

Maya Moore might be the best player in the world. Seimone Augustus and Whalen still got it. McCarville is not yet in shape, but she has those great hands and the remarkable ability to pass. Big Mac was almost a "point center'' for the Lynx in the 20 minutes she played in this 90-74 blowout win.

The fifth starter, Rebekkah Brunson, doesn't get the publicity, but she's Hades on wheels. And then there are Wright, Devereaux Peters and 6-foot-5 Amber Harris to play heavy minutes off the bench. Wright is an offensive talent; Peters and Harris are rugged.

How good was it? Britney Griner, the 6-foot-8 rookie, will be here with Phoenix on Thursday night. I might show up, even if I don't have column writing duties.

Yeah, it was a hellacious Saturday to be a sports fan. And now we ask, "What will Sunday bring?''







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