We have a full agenda with this year's Turkeys, the often-imitated, never-duplicated Thanksgiving Day feast where the guests - not the birds - get basted. The table has been set for such a large delegation today that we must get to it, starting with the previous recipients of the Turkey of the Year Award:
1978/ Woody Hayes and Chuck Fairbanks. 1979/ Pete Rozelle and Bowie Kuhn. 1980/ Bobby Knight. 1981/ George Steinbrenner. 1982/ Billy Martin. 1983/ Paul Giel. 1984/ Les Steckel. 1985/ Lou Holtz. 1986/ Kenneth Keller. 1987/ Carl Pohlad. 1988/ Lou Nanne. 1989/ Mike Lynn. 1990/ Kent Hrbek.
As for this year's honorees, we will start with the 20th runner-up and work our way to the top:
20/ Scott Simpson. Spectacular crowds and a splendid golf course greeted the field for the U.S. Open at Hazeltine National last June. Then, Simpson turned the competition into the Long Prairie Shortstop by bogeying two of the last three holes on Sunday, and the three final holes during a Monday playoff, to hand the championship to Payne Stewart.
19/ Five BBWAA voters. Five members of the Baseball Writers Association of America cast their first-place votes for the Twins' Scott Erickson in the Cy Young Award balloting. Wake up, folks. The schedule did not end June 29, which is when Erickson stopped getting out hitters.
18/ Five Minnesota Gophers. Patt Evans was the snapper. Dean Kauffman and Scott Schaffner were the holders. Aaron Piepkorn and Mike Chalberg were the kickers. These lads were able to execute two of eight extra points from placement. Do you still wonder why the coach was fired?
17/ Martina Navratilova. She read a co-habitation agreement in front of a video camera, then tried to convince people she did not know what was in the deal with Judy Nelson. How stupid is this woman?
16/ Gary Glitter. A couple of decades ago, this guy recorded a ridiculous, three-note song called "Rock 'n Roll, part 2." Now, you can't walk into a sports arena without having a crowd of idiots standing up every three minutes to go "hey, hey." Glitter has left a legacy more annoying than the wave.
15/ Phil Esposito. This guy was going to bring the NHL to Florida. The only items lacking in Tampa were investors with the $50 million to pay the franchise fee, investors with the $100 million for a proposed arena and a population with an interest in ice hockey. How stupid is this man?
14/ Bob Sheffield. His duties include overseeing Willowbrook Golf Course in Winter Haven, Fla. When Donald DeGreve fell dead of a heart attack near the 16th green, Sheffield decided to keep the golfers on schedule. "I told them to skip 16 - to go from the 15th green to the 17th tee," Sheffield said. Sheffield passed on another option: giving a free drop from Donald and playing through.
13/ Elton Kuderer. He is the chairman of the University of Minnesota's Board of Regents. Here in the land of 100,000 layoffs and 10,000 arenas, Kuderer and the regents have told the men's athletic department to find and spend the funds for a $17 million (or more) hockey arena.
12/ Andy MacPhail. OK, the guy's team did win the World Series, but Young Andrew continues to grasp the ridiculous notion that the Frank Viola trade was the foundation for this championship. When the pieces were in place from the Viola trade in 1990, the Twins finished last. When they added Jack Morris (to replace Viola as a staff leader), Chili Davis and Mike Pagliarulo, the foundation was there to win another Series. . . . despite the best efforts of David West to prevent it.
11/ Chris Voelz. She has one of the best-funded women's athletic departments in the country at Minnesota. The women continue to compete in privacy. Blame it on the media? How about blaming it on Voelz and her people, who seem to revel in the anonymity that surrounds this $3 million-a-year fiefdom.
10/ Kent Hrbek. Big Herbie should be commended for the late October push he made to become the first two-time Turkey of the Year, but the best he could do was a place among the top 10 runners-up.
9/ Tom Ryther. On the occasion of his firing at KARE-11, Ryther recalled the many stories he had broken as a dogged sports reporter. The Turkey Committee will give T.R. credit: He always seemed to break the news that promoter Chuck Daszkiewicz was going to have another boxing card.
8/ Tony Campbell. Bill Musselman brought Campbell to Minnesota and made him a star. Campbell joined Pooh Richardson in starting the public criticism that led to Musselman's firing with the
Timberwolves. Now, there is a new coach and Campbell is working his way back toward the end of the bench.
7/ Bud Selig. The owner of the Milwaukee Brewers also has been an influential member of baseball's Player Relations Committee. He has been campaigning for fiscal responsibility. Then, this goofball gave $13 million to Ted (Dead Arm) Higuera and followed up by guaranteeing $8.5 million to Bill Wegman.
6/ Lonnie Smith. He fell for the oldest Little League trick there is and gift-wrapped the World Series trophy for the Twins. For all Minnesotans, the Turkey Committee offers another huge thank you to Lonnie.
5/ Mike (Ironbrain) Tyson. What kind of birds don't fly? Pen-raised turkeys and jailbirds. Ironbrain already is a turkey. There is strong potential for him to become the other type of grounded bird, too.
4/ Frank Deford. This guy took hundreds of workers down the tubes with him with his ill-conceived sports daily, The National. As a reward to the people who lost their jobs, Deford sent a copy of his latest book, with the inscription: "Thank you for joining me in this great adventure." Right, Frank. Unemployment.
3/ Bill Bork. Never has an outfit been so committed to ruining its live product as Ladbroke, the international bookmakers who own Canterbury Downs. Bork is Ladbroke's vice president for North
American Racing, which should be called North American Simulcasting.
2/ Rudy Martzke. Turn to page 3 of USA Today's sports section most any time and you will find the No. 1 embarrassment in the history of print journalism. The Turkey Committee is including The Star and National Enquirer when it makes this assessment.
1/ Norm Green. The owner of the North Stars gave it a valiant effort with his pay per view of his sport's sacred championship (the Stanley Cup), with his hiring of Pat Forciea as sports' first official political spin doctor, by stealing the hockey tournament from St. Paul, by driving his Rolls Royce Corniche to Met Center and then trying to pass himself off as a man of the people, with his gawd-awful black uniforms. Yet, in the one of the closest votes in the 14-year history of the Turkey Awards, Norm Greed had to settle for being the first runner-up.
This brings us to the great moment. No doubt, the anticipation was again strong that the winner would be Herschel Walker, the wealthy, tip-toeing tailback of the Minnesota Vikings.
The committee gave Walker strong consideration in 1990, then went with Hrbek in something of an upset. Again, Walker was a strong candidate in 1991. He left a tremendous impression before the final vote with his disinterested effort last Sunday against Detroit.
Finally, the Turkey Committee reached an historic conclusion. It was decided that Herschel's qualifications go beyond those of a mere Turkey of the Year - that his efforts on behalf of the Vikings should be remembered in perpetuity.
We have decided to rename the yearly honor. No longer will this award be known as the Turkey of the Year. In the future, the person deemed to be the biggest sporting turkey of a calendar year will receive this award:
Herschel the Turkey.
How appropriate, then, that the Turkey Committee has selected one of Walker's teammates as the winner of the first Herschel. He represents everything the Vikings of recent years have stood for -
too much pay, too little effort, too much egomania and too much acceptance of defeat.
You know him, you love him, here he is - Chris Doleman.
We don't have Lomas Brown or Stan Thomas or Mike Kenn blocking the way to the head table, Chris, so you can walk right up here and take your place at the forefront of Turkeydom