Banquet packs 'em in; winner drives 'em out

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 22, 2006 - 10:00 PM

The bountiful list of contenders for Turkey of the Year ensures a crowded table, but this year's Grand Turkey knows how to empty the seats.

The internal debate on the Turkey Committee between the old guard and the young turks reached a new level of hostility during this week's final consultations.

The belligerent youngsters restated their contention that the Turkey Awards should be dedicated to ridicule. They argued vociferously that the Grand Turkey, a k a the Herschel, should be reserved for idiotic behavior of athletes.

The turks said the big award should go to a gentleman such as former Viking Koren Robinson, who was pinched for driving over the legal limit at more than 100 miles per hour and in the process blew the millions he had coming on a new contract.

The committee's chairman tried to explain again that the Turkey Awards are about catharsis -- about pointing out flaws on which an honoree can work to become a better athlete, coach, owner or administrator, and perhaps a better person.

"Take the example of the most recent Grand Turkey, Bob Naegele, the owner of Minnesota's NHL team," the chairman said. "A year ago, he was so cheap that he was ripping off his loyal customers with an inferior product.

"This flaw was pointed out on Thanksgiving morning 2005, and the man changed his ways. Naegele funded an overhaul of the roster last summer and now lively entertainment has returned for the sellout crowds in St. Paul.

"So you see what these prestigious awards can do when based on constructive criticism, rather than mere chastisement."

The turks hooted and hurled insults at the chairman until he couldn't take it anymore. The old boy pounded the lectern and shouted:

"The Turkeys are what we thought they were! Now, if you want to crown Koren's keister, then crown it. But the Turkeys ARE what we thought they were!"

The debate was over. The Turkey Committee finally embarked on the serious business of issuing these invitations for the 29th annual Turkey Banquet:

Ron Gardenhire: The Twins manager was a late addition after the MVP votes were announced. MVP, Cy Young, batting champ, Exec of the Year as the talent provider -- and 0-3 in the playoffs. We want more, Gardy.

Phil Mickelson: He wasn't satisfied to ruin his own season by pouting over his 72nd-hole collapse in the U.S. Open. He also decided to ruin any chance for the U.S. team in the Ryder Cup.

Ricky Davis: Can't shoot but won't stop trying. Doesn't pass or play defense. The Woofies wuz robbed.

Jason Kubel: He goes in the tank after the All-Star break, sits around and shows no ambition the final six weeks of the season, then refuses the Twins' request to go to Venezuela for the second half of the winter schedule to get at-bats. Starting in left field for the Twins on Opening Day 2007: Jason ... Tyner.

Fay Vincent: He wasn't satisfied to be a disastrous baseball commissioner. He also was the chairman of the Hall of Fame's Negro Leagues special committee that failed to include the great (and now late) Buck O'Neil among last summer's 17 inductees.

Landon Donovan: The United States soccer team went to the World Cup in Germany with a huge buildup. The Yanks failed miserably -- with Donovan as the top flop.

Ben Smith: There are two countries in the world with more than a few dozen women playing hockey: the United States and Canada. Against all odds, Smith managed to avoid coaching the U.S. team into the gold medal game at this winter's Olympics.

Michelle Wie: Look up snot .n in any unabridged dictionary and you will find her picture.

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  • Previous turkey winners

    Wednesday November 22, 2006

    • 1978: Woody Hayes• 1979: Pete Rozelle and Bowie Kuhn• 1980: Bobby Knight• 1981: George Steinbrenner• 1982: Billy Martin• 1983:...

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