Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, reflecting on Carl Pohlad while attending his funeral on Thursday at the Basilica of St. Mary, said not only will his family and friends miss the former Twins owner, but that baseball has lost one of its best owners ever.
Those at the biggest funeral in the Twin Cities since that of Sen. Hubert Humphrey honored the man who saved baseball for this area.
What troubled Selig is that Pohlad died being blamed by many for the talk of contraction in 2002, with the Twins reportedly targeted for elimination.
"It was really a story that was so badly reported," Selig said. "The economics of the sport at that time was terrible. We had most of the clubs losing money -- our losses were unbelievable. The owners, we had a lot of disparity, we had problems all over. The owners in January of 2000 had given me unlimited power to fix the competitive balance problems.
"The owners came up with the idea of contraction because they were desperate, and they figured maybe two less teams. We never talked about individual teams; we never got to that. This wasn't a Carl Pohlad deal. In fact, I can remember all the owners had come to Milwaukee to talk about it. Carl was not one of them.
"You know how close Carl and I were. Carl is one of the best friends that I ever had. But to blame Carl for contraction is just completely wrong and in error, by the way. There are no facts to support it."
Pohlad was frustrated all along after trying to get a stadium for about eight years, Selig added, and at one time he thought that former Gov. Arne Carlson was going to get it done, and it fell through.
Selig said he ranked Pohlad and John Galbreath, former owner of the Pirates, as two of the game's most respected owners.
"[Carl] was loyal. He was unselfish. He was deeply committed to the sport, and he did everything right," Selig said. "He was one of the most loyal human beings that I have ever met.
"I have to tell you, sitting at the funeral today and thinking back through all the times, I don't mind telling you Carl and I had an 11:30-in-the-morning phone call every Saturday morning. ... I missed that the past couple of months [when Pohlad's health began failing], and I have to tell you something: this sport will miss Carl Pohlad. I wish you could hear the calls I'm getting from other owners. I know that from time to time, people up here got mad at Carl for this or that, which is unfair.
"Because, in truth, he saved the Minnesota Twins in 1984 -- that is a fact. There would not be a Minnesota Twins all these years, including those two wonderful world championships in '87 and '91, but for Carl Pohlad. So I will always be wonderfully loyal to Carl. I loved him in every way, and today was really a sad day for me."
No question, Pohlad's determination helped get the stadium. He fought long and hard to get it. And now the Twins franchise, because of Pohlad and his family, is secure now for generations to come.Mauer healthy
Twins All-Star catcher Joe Mauer recently underwent a kidney operation at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester to correct a problem he had last year.
"Everything went well. It was something I needed to do," he said. "At the end of the year, it started to affect me for a little bit.
"... I'm looking forward to getting back out on the field. I'm still getting some rest and I've got a doc appointment at the end of the month, and I should know more then."
For now, the two-time batting champion added: "I'm going to follow directions and do what they tell me to do. I'm just trying to heal up. It's only been a couple of weeks, and I'm just trying to get back on my feet."
He said he is able to appreciate the fact he won the batting title now that season is over, but the feat hasn't brought any new sponsors.
"I still have a bad taste in my mouth from the way [the season] ended, but I'm able appreciate what we did over the season a little bit more as the offseason's went on," he said.
The former Cretin-Derham Hall star has two more seasons left on his contract, and he hears people talking about him signing with a different club when he becomes a free agent.
"I really haven't put too much thought into it," he said. "A lot of things have been going on this offseason. ... I love playing here, and I think we've got a real good chance of winning."Jottings
Among the names being mentioned for the Gophers football team's vacant offensive coordinator job is Mike Hohensee, who has been successful coaching the Chicago Rush in the Arena Football League, which has suspended its 2009 season. Another former Gopher, Mark Trestman, was considered, but he is happy where he is, coaching Montreal in the Canadian Football League. ... About three weeks ago, Urban Meyer, coach at Florida, called Vikings quarterback coach Kevin Rogers and asked him if he was interested in joining his staff as the offensive coordinator. But Rogers said he was going to stay with the Vikings.
Ted Roof, who resigned as Gophers defensive coordinator after only one year with the staff, said that money was definitely not the main factor in taking the same job at Auburn. Even though the Auburn job pays a lot more, "It was all family," he said. "Both my wife and my family live a lot closer to Auburn -- the parents will be able to see the grandkids and relatives more often."
Vikings coach Brad Childress had conversations with four key free agents -- Matt Birk, Darren Sharper, Heath Farwell and Jim Kleinsasser -- and apparently didn't guarantee them jobs for next season, realizing that all four will check the market and see what other teams offer. All four will play next year and would prefer to remain with the Vikings. "Sometimes it's up to the coaches, too," Birk said. "I felt good. I feel I played pretty well and was able to help the team get to the playoffs. I think I can start anywhere. It's just we'll see what happens."
Twins lefthander Francisco Liriano pitched in four games for Leones del Escogido in the Dominican winter baseball league in December. Liriano went 0-1, posting a 2.45 ERA in 11 innings. Liriano was kept to a pitch count that grew exponentially from game to game; in his longest outing, he went 4 2/3 innings, giving up four hits and striking out four batters without giving up a run.
Twins minor league catcher Wilson Ramos, who was ranked as the organization's third-best prospect by Baseball America, hit .317 with four home runs and 25 RBI in 44 games for the Tigres de Aragua in the Venezuelan winter league.