Feast fit for a king, or a jester

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 24, 2011 - 8:36 AM

The Turkey Banquet table is crowded, but we'll make room for our hungry Grand Turkey.

The mood surrounding the Turkey Banquet is always festive, and it takes on a quality that is both giddy and heartwarming when there is a chance to reflect on a grand year in Minnesota sports.

Really, when has it been better for sports fans in this region than in the 12 months since the Turkeys were last awarded?

In December, the University of Minnesota did the Maroon and Gold proud by winning  its second national football title in three years, defeating Delta State 20-17 on the hallowed turf of Braly Municipal Stadium in Florence, Ala.

In April, the University of Minnesota completed a fantastic exacta by defeating Michigan 3-2 in overtime to win the NCAA men's hockey championship, on what was almost home ice at the X in St. Paul.

In September, a thrilling finish for Minnesota's ardent followers of professional baseball was in store, when the Saints needed a victory on the last day of the regular season to achieve wild-card status.

Eventually, the Saints lost the decisive fifth game of the championship series in Grand Prairie, Texas, but they offered a wonderful ride, and it's never a disgrace to lose to the AirHogs.

And then came the greatest October in Minnesota sports history:

Early in the month, the Lynx completed their season-long domination of the WNBA by putting the Atlanta Dream to sleep (clever, hey?) with a three-game sweep to win the title.

Late in the month, the Minnesota Stars -- with the last seed in the playoffs -- whipped Fort Lauderdale in the two-game, total-goal final to win the NASL title.

Who among us can forget the victory parade winding through downtown Minneapolis, with Stars standout Neil Hlavaty wearing his Snoopy aviator hat?

The Turkey Committee faced a mighty challenge in coming up with worthy candidates for the ceremony, what with all this success.

To further limit the committee, it was decided to wait for the justice system of the greatest country in the world (with the possible exception of Australia) to play itself out, and not to consider the Penn State scandal for 2011 Turkeys.

One more item: To save on travel expenses for a number of honorees, we considered renting banquet space at Target Field.

Then the committee's comptroller expressed fear someone might order a Vincent burger and a Summit Pale Ale and put us out of business. We moved a couple of blocks to Lee's Liquor Lounge, where owner/chef Louie Sirian will be serving beef sticks and tap beer.

We've finally made it, as has been the case for 33 previous Thanksgivings, to the honored Turkeys.

TCF Bank Stadium. Never before has the committee honored an inanimate object, but then never before has a $290 million tribute to a sports team turned into a white elephant in three seasons.

You can't get there for kickoff without a two-hour head start. And it takes longer to get off campus after a game. Plus, they can't fill the place even when folks wearing Wisconsin red occupy 20,000 seats.

We've asked the university to send over the individual responsible for not putting heat coils under the field to accept the Turkey.

Ralph and Rodney. Even without a point guard, there's no way the 2010-11 Gophers could have lost 10 of their last 11 games if Ralph Sampson III and Rodney Williams had used, say, 75 percent of their talent. If they don't pick it up, senior Ralph and junior Rodney have a chance to go down as two of the more notable underachievers in Gophers hoops history.

Jim Tressel. A big-time football coach sitting on information that could make his star quarterback ineligible is one thing.

When it's done by a sanctimonious coach, such as Ohio State's "Cheaty McSweater," it's worth a Turkey.

Kurt Rambis. The committee wasn't going to let this ex-Timberwolves coach slip out of town unnoticed. When a highly paid coach goes through the motions as clearly as did Rambis, it's Turkey time.

Bud Selig. OK, it's admirable that the baseball commissioner and his negotiators reached an early deal with the players. That doesn't change the disgust with the addition of second wild-card teams and one-game playoffs -- the most senseless, cheapest kowtow to TV in sports history.

Nevin Shapiro. We've arranged for Nevin to make a video acceptance from prison. We're hoping for a slide show from his favorite Hurricanes/strippers yacht party.

John Gagliardi. There have been plenty of banquets honoring the St. John's coach, but never in recognition of a 63-7 loss to archrival St. Thomas.

Bill Musgrave. It's not the game plans or the plays. It's the embarrassment of having a Vikings offensive coordinator with a play sheet the size of a recipe card, when most NFL guys are working off material as thick as a Cheesecake Factory menu.

Generally, the committee prefers more variety, but when it came to the 2011 Turkeys, this definitely was the year of the Twins. We'll start with the special Twins table:

Francisco Liriano, Kevin Slowey, Matt Capps and Jose Mijares are here to represent the failed pitchers.

Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, Drew Butera and Delmon Young (in a bravura return to Minnesota) are here to represent the failed position players.

The chairs at the ends of this long table belong to Ron Gardenhire, who went from Manager of the Year to overseer of a dysfunctional clubhouse, and Bill Smith, who went from a symbol of ownership's loyalty to long-time employees to being fired as general manager.

And now ...

Second runner-up: Tsuyoshi Nishioka arrived from Japan as a batting champion and saying his job would be to step on home plate often. Soon, Twins fans were simply hoping that Nishi would remember to step on second base on a forceout.

First runner-up: Joe Mauer. The committee members prove again we will not be intimidated by public clamor in selecting the Turkey of the Year.

Mauer has seven more years to battle bilateral weaknesses and flu-like symptoms while earning $23 million. Many previous individuals have worked their way up from honoree (as was Mauer in 2010) to runner-up status and finally to Grand Turkey.

In the committee's view, it was more important to honor this next fellow while he still was a frequent visitor to Minnesota.

Turkey of the Year: Zygi Wilf

On July 29, 2005, the Vikings took out full-page ads in the Minneapolis and St. Paul newspapers. They were signed by Zygi and his brother, Mark, and included the battle cry "A New Tradition Begins Today."

There was a three-point commitment:

• We will build on the Vikings' winning tradition.

Reality: There was a window for that in 2009, but a narrow loss in the NFC Championship Game in January 2010 has been followed by eight victories in 28 games and a team destined to finish last for a second season in a row.

• We will create a respected, world-class organization on the field and in the community.

Reality: A survey revealed that, with a recent surge, the Vikings have taken the NFL lead for most arrests in the past decade.

• We will make sure that the Vikings remain Minnesota's football team.

Reality: Zygi is insisting that the state of Minnesota come up with a minimum of $700 million to provide the bulk of financing for a new stadium -- and to build it precisely where he wants it -- in order to guarantee the future of the franchise in Minnesota.

Everything considered, the selection of the Zygmeister as Turkey of the Year wasn't as tough as you might think.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500ESPN. preusse@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
New York 71 FINAL
Charlotte 76
Detroit 86 FINAL
Milwaukee 101
Philadelphia 83 FINAL
Memphis 101
Brooklyn 73 FINAL
Utah 108
Washington 96 FINAL
Portland 103
Wake Forest 57 FINAL
Clemson 59
Coll of Charleston 51 FINAL
Drexel 53
Tulsa 66 FINAL
East Carolina 64
Oklahoma State 53 FINAL
Kansas State 63
Rutgers 51 FINAL
Penn State 79
Iowa 63 FINAL
Purdue 67
Kentucky 58 FINAL
South Carolina 43
DePaul 76 FINAL
Xavier 89
Navy 65 FINAL
Holy Cross 76
Bucknell 92 FINAL
Boston Univ 77
Allen (SC) 46 FINAL
Furman 82
South Dakota 50 FINAL
IUPUI 65
Texas A&M 67 FINAL
Tennessee 61
Citadel 75 FINAL
Va Military 85
Jacksonville 59 FINAL
Northern Ky 81
Loyola-Chicago 61 FINAL
Indiana State 72
Boise State 77 FINAL
Air Force 68
Kent State 63 FINAL
Ball State 52
Loyola-Maryland 58 FINAL
Colgate 59
Duquesne 59 FINAL
George Washington 74
Dartmouth 70 FINAL
Harvard 61
Lehigh 75 FINAL
Lafayette 71
Arkansas 61 FINAL
Missouri 60
Florida State 74 FINAL
North Carolina 78
Buffalo 61 FINAL
Ohio 63
Kansas 75 FINAL
Texas 62
TCU 85 FINAL
West Virginia 86
Akron 71 FINAL
Western Mich 69
Northeastern 62 FINAL
William & Mary 78
Brown 65 FINAL
Yale 69
Stetson 67 FINAL
USC Upstate 91
Denver 69 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 80
Fla Gulf Coast 54 FINAL
Kennesaw St 48
Illinois 71 FINAL
Minnesota 79
Louisiana 64 FINAL
Georgia State 75
Georgetown 95 FINAL
Marquette 85
St Francis-PA 40 FINAL
Mount St Marys 52
Texas-El Paso 71 FINAL
Marshall 78
Georgia 72 FINAL
Miss State 66
TX-San Antonio 74 FINAL
Western Ky 83
CS-Bakersfield 57 FINAL
Chicago State 41
MD-Eastern Shore 74 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 70
Presbyterian 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 63
Southern Ill 66 FINAL
Evansville 75
James Madison 69 FINAL
Hofstra 63
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Nebraska 79
Miami-Ohio 60 FINAL
Northern Ill 55
McNeese State 67 FINAL
Northwestern St 93
UCLA 64 FINAL
Oregon 82
Robert Morris 67 FINAL
St Francis-NY 65
BYU 74 FINAL
San Diego 77
Miami-Florida 66 FINAL
Syracuse 62
Iowa State 73 FINAL
Texas Tech 78
Campbell 63 FINAL
Winthrop 71
New Mexico 62 FINAL
Wyoming 63
Sacred Heart 83 FINAL
Bryant 66
Austin Peay 56 FINAL
Eastern Ill 52
Eastern Mich 51 FINAL
Central Mich 65
Long Island 80 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 76
Liberty 76 FINAL
Radford 84
Coppin State 77 FINAL
NC Central 79
Northern Ariz 71 FINAL
Montana State 64
North Florida 75 FINAL
Lipscomb 66
North Dakota 80 FINAL
Eastern Wash 102
Arkansas State 64 FINAL
Troy 55
Old Dominion 68 FINAL
UAB 81
Gardner-Webb 80 FINAL
Char Southern 93
Morehead State 66 FINAL
Jacksonville St 63
Ga Southern 57 FINAL
ULM 53
Stephen F Austin 79 FINAL
Sam Houston St 68
Appalachian St 64 FINAL
Texas State 58
Nicholls 71 FINAL
Central Arkansas 61
Incarnate Word 77 FINAL
Abilene Christian 61
Alcorn State 60 FINAL
Alabama State 84
Texas-Arlington 75 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 68
Oklahoma 58 FINAL
Baylor 69
UNC Greensboro 72 FINAL
Chattanooga 81
Howard 59 FINAL
Florida A&M 50
Jackson State 74 FINAL
Grambling St 63
Charlotte 69 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 72
Florida 71 FINAL
Ole Miss 72
Prairie View 72 FINAL
Miss Valley St 65
Delaware State 67 FINAL
NC A&T 52
USC 55 FINAL
Oregon State 59
Norfolk State 76 FINAL
SC State 63
Houston 59 FINAL
SMU 80
LSU 79 FINAL
Vanderbilt 75
Hampton 66 FINAL
Savannah State 68
Cal State Fullerton 49 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 68
Wagner 50 FINAL
Central Conn St 53
Cornell 57 FINAL
Columbia 47
Richmond 60 FINAL
Dayton 63
Delaware 82 FINAL
Elon 94
Nevada 62 FINAL
Fresno State 66
Davidson 80 FINAL
George Mason 73
UNC-Asheville 51 FINAL
High Point 72
North Dakota St 71 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 77
Wisconsin 69 FINAL
Michigan 64
Canisius 46 FINAL
Rider 59
Penn 56 FINAL
Saint Josephs 52
Western Carolina 72 FINAL
Samford 78
SE Missouri St 53 FINAL
UT Martin 70
Bowling Green 67 FINAL
Toledo 71
East Tenn St 64 FINAL
Wofford 72
Ill-Chicago 64 FINAL
Youngstown St 77
Seattle 55 FINAL
UMKC 75
TX A&M-CC 71 FINAL
New Orleans 67
Southern U 65 FINAL
Alabama A&M 58
Missouri State 59 FINAL
Bradley 61
Washington St 58 FINAL
Colorado 90
Pacific 60 FINAL
Gonzaga 91
Utah State 77 FINAL
UNLV 79
Towson 65 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 69
Southern Miss 75 FINAL
North Texas 71
South Dakota St 76 FINAL
Oral Roberts 72
Louisiana Tech 58 FINAL
Rice 45
Grand Canyon 72 FINAL
TX-Pan American 73
Memphis 57 FINAL
Tulane 55
Murray State 60 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 54
Lamar 77 FINAL
Houston Baptist 79
Auburn 55 FINAL
Alabama 57
Texas Southern 62 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Southern Utah 56 FINAL
Montana 58
Utah Valley U 44 FINAL
New Mexico St 69
Sacramento St 78 FINAL
Weber State 71
Portland State 76 FINAL
Idaho State 80
Eastern Ky 81 FINAL
Tenn Tech 83
UC Riverside 49 FINAL
Cal Poly 68
Long Beach State 64 FINAL
CS-Northridge 58
San Diego St 73 FINAL
Colorado State 79
Northern Colorado 79 FINAL
Idaho 83
St Marys-CA 74 FINAL
Portland 64
Loyola Marymount 70 FINAL
San Francisco 69
Arizona 73 FINAL
California 50
Pepperdine 57 FINAL
Santa Clara 60
UC Irvine 78 FINAL
Hawaii 72
Arizona State 70 FINAL
Stanford 89
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Middle Tennessee 84 FINAL
Charlotte 54
Kansas State 46 FINAL
(3) Baylor 68
Louisiana 63 FINAL
Georgia State 56
Sacred Heart 67 FINAL
Bryant 71
Wagner 61 FINAL
Central Conn St 77
Robert Morris 67 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
Presbyterian 51 FINAL
Winthrop 54
Akron 74 FINAL
Central Michigan 72
Davidson 47 FINAL
Duquesne 83
Dayton 75 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 56
George Washington 67 FINAL
La Salle 48
USC Upstate 44 FINAL
Stetson 67
Long Island 79 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 75
MD-Eastern Shore 65 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 75
Coppin State 58 FINAL
NC Central 59
Wofford 47 FINAL
East Tenn St 69
UNC Greensboro 49 FINAL
Western Carolina 70
Campbell 40 FINAL
Liberty 64
Charleston Southern 71 FINAL
Longwood 79
McNeese State 54 FINAL
Northwestern St 75
Coastal Carolina 61 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 68
High Point 58 FINAL
Radford 61
UAB 46 FINAL
Old Dominion 58
Penn 59 FINAL
NJIT 29
Austin Peay 66 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 63
West Virginia 59 FINAL
Kansas 65
Miami-Ohio 53 FINAL
Bowling Green 66
Northern Ill 43 FINAL
Buffalo 47
Eastern Michigan 75 FINAL
Toledo 61
Western Mich 78 FINAL
Kent State 55
Manhattan 51 FINAL
Siena 59
Boston U 56 FINAL
Bucknell 72
Colgate 72 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 45
Holy Cross 60 FINAL
Navy 44
Rhode Island 57 FINAL
George Mason 45
Massachusetts 44 FINAL
Richmond 64
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Saint Josephs 66
Cleveland State 65 FINAL
Wright State 82
Green Bay 75 FINAL
Detroit 58
Northern Ky 70 FINAL
Jacksonville 59
Lipscomb 71 FINAL
North Florida 62
Tulsa 74 FINAL
East Carolina 63
TCU 71 FINAL
Oklahoma St 62
Santa Clara 65 FINAL
Pepperdine 54
Denver 82 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 75
Incarnate Word 54 FINAL
Abilene Christian 78
Nicholls 75 FINAL
Central Arkansas 72
Furman 45 FINAL
Chattanooga 67
Nebraska Omaha 53 FINAL
Oral Roberts 74
Stephen F Austin 64 FINAL
Sam Houston St 65
(24) Western Ky 63 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 64
Houston 49 FINAL
Memphis 84
Morehead St 64 FINAL
Jacksonville St 72
Prairie View 78 FINAL
Miss Valley St 61
Appalachian St 58 FINAL
Texas State 67
Arkansas State 82 FINAL
Troy 76
American Univ 60 FINAL
Army 68
Georgia Southern 66 FINAL
ULM 72
Illinois-Chicago 63 FINAL
Milwaukee 64
Youngstown St 82 FINAL
Oakland 85
Eastern Washington 82 FINAL
North Dakota 96
Texas Tech 64 FINAL
Oklahoma 70
San Diego 50 FINAL
BYU 54
Air Force 54 FINAL
Boise State 81
Portland 53 FINAL
St Marys-CA 66
Howard 53 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Wyoming 54 FINAL
New Mexico 60
Delaware State 38 FINAL
NC A&T 79
UNLV 72 FINAL
Utah State 85
Hampton 55 FINAL
Savannah State 61
Marshall 76 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 71
Norfolk State 75 FINAL
SC State 79
Boston College 70 FINAL
Pittsburgh 78
Chicago State 58 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 83
Alcorn State 45 FINAL
Alabama State 54
Jackson State 64 FINAL
Grambling 55
TX-Arlington 38 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 66
Fordham 50 FINAL
Saint Louis 54
Idaho 52 FINAL
Northern Colorado 70
Cornell 44 FINAL
Columbia 42
Ohio U 60 FINAL
Ball State 53
Gonzaga 73 FINAL
Pacific 63
San Francisco 74 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 65
St Francis-PA 64 FINAL
Mount St Marys 74
Colorado State 49 FINAL
San Diego State 36
Hawaii 85 FINAL
Cal-Irvine 50
Lamar 80 FINAL
Houston Baptist 64
TX A&M-CC 58 FINAL
New Orleans 46
Weber State 65 FINAL
Sacramento St 108
FIU 63 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 77
North Texas 55 FINAL
Southern Miss 67
Southern U 77 FINAL
Alabama A&M 55
(6) Notre Dame 74 FINAL
Clemson 36
Murray State 52 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 78
SE Missouri St 55 FINAL
UT Martin 96
New Mexico St 68 FINAL
Utah Valley U 58
No Dakota State 66 FINAL
Western Ill 88
Harvard 75 FINAL
Dartmouth 69
Texas Southern 74 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 45
Belmont 64 FINAL
Tennessee St 62
Eastern Kentucky 97 FINAL
Tenn Tech 93
South Dakota 43 FINAL
IUPUI 68
Fresno State 62 FINAL
Nevada 44
CS-Northridge 67 FINAL
Long Beach St 52
Rice 71 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 88
UMKC 46 FINAL
Seattle 60
Saint Peters 51 FINAL
Marist 77
Kennesaw St 47 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 61
Cal Poly 78 FINAL
UC-Riverside 82
Montana State 64 FINAL
Northern Ariz 79
UC Santa Barbara 50 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 54
Montana 59 FINAL
Southern Utah 37
Idaho State 65 FINAL
Portland State 53
TX-Pan American 54 FINAL
Grand Canyon 69

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2015 Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close