Jim Souhan: Giving more than we're getting

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 10, 2007 - 12:11 AM

Here's wondering why most Massachusetts-Minnesota deals seem to work in Boston's favor.

Today, Kevin Garnett faces the Timberwolves for the first time since Minnesota traded him to the Boston Celtics at the end of July.

The game will be played in London. Minnesotans would prefer someplace farther away, like Siberia or Pluto.

The game provides the latest reminder that Minnesota has become a farm system for New England. We are the wind beneath their wings.

Minnesota has an immigration problem. Our best athletes keep slipping across the border, sneaking through The Fens, skirting the Big Dig and making Boston America's best sports town.

You thought the Herschel trade stunk? How about the Boston Massacre -- Minnesota providing Boston with David Ortiz, Kevin Garnett, Randy Moss, Laurence Maroney and, once upon a time, basketball legend Kevin McHale.

In return for stars, we've received lost satellites such as former Red Sox farmhand Lew (Wrong Way) Ford; former Celtics center Mark (What, Me Rebound?) Blount; former Celtics head case Ricky (Quittin' Time) Davis; Boston native and Patriots tight end Jermaine (How 'Bout My Sohhhx!) Wiggins; and basketball executive Kevin (Once a Celtic Always a Celtic) McHale.

At least the Bruins were kind enough to let us have Wild winger Brian Rolston, about whom I can make no jokes.

Even former Minnesotans lacking pedigree thrive in Boston. When the Twins sent a non-star to the Red Sox, Doug Mientkiewicz helped them to their first post-Depression World Series victory.

Apparently, clam chowder has greater recuperative effects than Lourdes' water. Remember, the Twins were happy to be rid of Ortiz, the Vikings (and later the Oakland Raiders) were thrilled to get rid of Moss, and McHale went from being one of the best basketball players to one of the worst sports executives in history.

Minnesota has provided Boston with three MVP-caliber performers. To recap:

Ortiz: In his dozen years on the job, Twins GM Terry Ryan made only two glaring mistakes -- signing Joe Mays to a long-term deal and cutting loose Ortiz.

The Ortiz decision looked reasonable at the time. Ortiz, who had been injury-prone and disappointing with the Twins, was an unwanted free agent for about five weeks before the Red Sox finally signed him to a $1.5 million contract as a backup to Jeremy Giambi. Yes, Jeremy Giambi.

It wasn't until halfway through his first season in Boston that Ortiz broke out. In summation: The Twins were wrong about Ortiz, but so were the 28 teams that had no interest in him. And if the Sox had thought he was an impact player, they would have signed him more quickly.

Moss: He's the most debated figure in recent Minnesota sports history, dividing those who think his talent should overshadow his myriad misbehaviors, and those who have standards.

So far, Moss has been a great fit in New England, with a coach and quarterback who command respect and a fan base that has seen a similar figure (Manny Ramirez) win a World Series.

Garnett: The Wolves did the right thing by trading Garnett. In fact, they should have traded him a year earlier, for a better package of players and picks. Garnett could make Wolves management look bad (worse?) by winning with the Celtics, but I'd rather watch Al Jefferson develop than watch Garnett waste another productive year at Target Center.

As Minnesota's best athletes have flooded New England, we've at least been able to infiltrate a couple of agent provocateurs.

Remember, Mientkiewicz, after catching the ball representing the end of 86 years of New England baseball angst, tried to keep it.

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