Turkey of the Year 2002: Kevin McHale and Flip Saunders

  • Updated: November 21, 2012 - 4:30 PM

Herschel Walker. Joe Salem. Jim Wacker. Dino Ciccarelli. Ron Davis. J.R. Rider. Christian Laettner. Harvey Mackay. Chris Voelz. Mark Yudof. Roger Headrick. Cheryl Littlejohn. Sid Hartman. Dark Star. Rudy Martzke. Bud Selig.

And: Glen Mason.

How tough is it to become the Turkey of the Year? Look at the list of names above, and then realize the unfathomable: None of the aforementioned legends has been deemed to be the Grand Turkey of a single calendar year.

Yes, Rider was named the Turkey of the Millennium for the years 1000-1999, and Walker had a lifetime achievement award named for him by the Turkey Committee, and Voelz was the winner of that lifetime achievement award, but Turkey of the Year? Nope.

These prestigious contenders have been shut out through 24 years of Turkey Banquets, ranging from those wonderful feasts we experienced during the Clinton economic boom, to the pressed turkey roll we now choke down in these hard times.
Still, this is the 25th Turkey Banquet and the committee wanted to do something special to greet the attendees.

Rick Kahn was invited to make a fiery keynote address, but we were informed he has chosen to take a hiatus from public rhetoric. We invited Senator-elect Norm Coleman and were told he would offer any message we wanted, although it had to be approved by the White House. These constraints caused the committee to go where we should havebeen looking in the first place: to Twins owner Carl Pohlad, the only two-time Turkey in a quarter-century of gobble glory.

In today's prepared remarks, Pohlad will tell the banquet audience: "I was happy seeing my team back in the playoffs. The only thing that would have made me happier was if my baseball partners had been allowed to give me that $175 million a few months earlier to fold the Twins."

With those inspiring words, we will start the roll call of honored guests for this historic 25th celebration of Turkeydom:

- R.T. Rybak. There were many Minnesota politicians suckered by the idea that Donald Watkins was prepared to buy the Twins and build a ballpark, but none looked sillier than the newly elected Minneapolis mayor standing with Watkins in that hole behind Target Center, trying to sell it to the Alabama windbag as a stadium site.

- Rivaldo. The Brazilian set an example for other soccer fakers to follow throughout last summer's World Cup. A ball was fired after the whistle and struck Rivaldo in the leg. He grabbed his head and went down as though he had been shot in the face by a bazooka. He was cited by FIFA for what was termed "disgraceful overreaction." And here's the good part - Rivaldo did this against Turkey.

- Jerry Royster. After a miserable season, the stragglers attending Brewers games had fun with shortstop Jose Hernandez's pursuit of the single-season strikeout record. Manager Royster went into a pout and benched Hernandez for the final games of the season. Hernandez didn't get the record, but Royster got what he deserved - being fired.

- Sarah Tueting. Dartmouth's Tueting and Providence's Sara DeCosta had been the top two goalies for U.S. women's hockey since the 1998 Olympics. Tueting was the winning goalie in the gold medal game that year. Last winter in Salt Lake City, Utah, Tueting was informed a season-long rotation would stay in force and DeCosta would be the goalie in the Olympic final.
To which Tueting harrumphed, "I do know I can do it in an Olympic final. Now, it's time for Sara to stand up and see if she can do it." Canada upset the Yanks and DeCosta, 3-2, which might have thrilled Tueting.

- Paul Allen. There's no way a play-by-play announcer can be spotted in a victorious locker room hugging a naked offensive lineman without getting a Turkey invite. Allen wound up in that situation with Vikings center Matt Birk after the mid-October victory over Detroit.

- Clinton Hurlbut. That was quite a shot for an ultra-senior citizen, Clinton, nailing that four-legged beast with a slug from 200 yards. If only it had been the world's largest albino buck, rather than a white horse.

- Joseph Chapman. The president of North Dakota State has been 100 percent behind the wacky plan to propel his school into Division I athletics. Meantime, the NDSU football team - too mighty for its Division II rivals in Chapman's opinion - finished 1-7 and last in the North Central Conference.

- Denny Hocking and Anne Hutchinson. Didn't they make a cute couple - the slap-hitting utility infielder and the future winner of CBS' Walter Cronkite Award - spraying each other with alcohol products after the Twins clinched a playoff spot?

- William Ligue Jr. You remember Billy, don't you? Billy called a relative and told her to find the White Sox game on television, then led his 15-year-old son out of the stands to attack Tom Gamboa, Kansas City's unsuspecting first base coach. In the process, Billy offered an important reminder to criminals everywhere: Always be shirtless to show off tattoos when being led away by the cops.

- Kirby Puckett. The committee would like to emphasize that, for now, the greatest player in Twins history is just an honored banquet guest.

And that takes us to the three finalists. As usual, it took much wrangling and many votes to reach a decision, which was this:

- Second runner-up: Brenda (Oldfield) Frese. There's always a place for ingratitude at the head table of the Turkey Banquet.

- First runner-up: Red McCombs. The Texas car dealer wants $600 million for a team for which he paid $250 million four years ago. And, he wants the public to build his Vikings a stadium all his own, so he can add scores of millions to that price.

When McCombs' people show up at the State Legislature next January, the Republicans running the place should say, "Tell your boss to call Sacco Babacas or Donald Watkins. Maybe they will build him a stadium."

This gets us to the 2002 Grand Turkey. For a second year in a row, following Randy Moss and Cris Carter, we have two chaps joined at the hip to share this honor:

- Kevin McHale and Flip Saunders.

This Timberwolves brain trust let Tom Gugliotta leave for nothing. They traded Stephon Marbury for what has turned out to be $10 million worth of nothing - Terrell Brandon. They got their Jacksons mixed up, losing Bobby and acquiring Marc.

They served as enablers to owner Glen Taylor's Joe Smith fetish by bringing back this NBA version of a stick figure, without even getting a promise from Joe that he would eat a big bowl of Wheaties every morning.
As you two affable ex-Gophers receive your golden drumsticks, the committee would like to add a keepsake to dramatize the occasion. Yes, we have copies of Sunday's Star Tribune sports section, with the game story for a third-year NHL expansion team on page 1 and the game story for your current product on page 19.

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