Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.

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Patrick Plus: Ex-Twins owner Griffith knew defense vs. fielding

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: February 1, 2014 - 6:42 PM

Twins owner Calvin Griffith was under siege after his infamous address to the Waseca Lions Club near the end of the 1978 season. Apparently, Calvin had a couple of Dubonnets in him, drew laughter with his first impolitic remark, and kept rolling.

Bad luck was following Calvin at that time, and he ran into more that night: Nick Coleman, a Minneapolis Tribune reporter, happened to be in the audience and wound up writing a summary of Calvin’s comments for the Trib’s front page.

All Hades busted loose. The racial insensitivity in his remarks led to editorials calling for Calvin to turn over control of the organization to others. Calvin wavered for a time, finally just stayed put, and the editorialists became fixated on other issues.

My favorite response from Mr. Griffith came as he tried to defend his position on race and baseball.

“When we sign a player, I don’t ask what color he is,’’ Calvin said. “I only ask, ‘Can he run? Hit? Throw?’ After this season, I’m going to ask one more question: ‘Can he field?’ We made so many errors … ah, never mind.’’

Most appreciated by me in that great quote was Calvin’s use of the proper baseball terminology: “Can he field?”

We are two weeks from spring training and again I’ll be cringing when the words “offense’’ and “defense’’ come out of the mouths of Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, his players, and even his boss, Terry Ryan.

That’s when I decided all was lost: When Ryan, a traditionalist at heart, joined the masses in using those football terms — offense and defense — to describe key elements of the Grand Old Game.

My main irritation is “defense’’ as the term to describe making plays in the field. Wrong.

Defense is “the means or tactics used in trying to stop the opposition from scoring.’’ And baseball’s No. 1 tactic to stop the opposition from scoring is pitching.

Making plays in the field isn’t defense. It’s fielding. Calvin knew that. Why don’t Ryan and Gardy and every other galoot in today’s game know that?

Plus Three from Patrick

• Some of us still have repeated the notion that UConn’s Randy Edsall (now at Maryland) turned down the Gophers’ football job in December 2010. Actually, the Gophers never were seriously interested in Edsall.

• A redshirt year to improve as a passer will make Philip Nelson an effective Big Ten quarterback. He’ll be very good at it by the time Rutgers plays here on Oct. 22, 2016.

• If Jason Kubel has 400 plate appearances this season, the Twins will again lose more than 90 games. He’s no answer to a feeble lineup.


Tampa 6 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 96 FINAL
Chicago 86
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Houston 105
Golden State 41 2nd Qtr 2:35
Boston 59
Philadelphia 30 2nd Qtr 8:09
Indiana 38
Portland 44 2nd Qtr 5:07
Sacramento 41
Charlotte 35 2nd Qtr 3:44
Orlando 33
Oklahoma City 18 1st Qtr 5:30
LA Lakers 10
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Winnipeg 5
Tampa Bay 1 3rd Prd
Florida 3
Columbus 1 3rd Prd
Pittsburgh 4
Toronto 6:00 PM
Anaheim 7:00 PM
St. Louis 8:30 PM
Connecticut 81
Quinnipiac 65 FINAL
Manhattan 69
Fairfield 56 FINAL
Niagara 57
Marist 49 FINAL
Rider 59
Iona 60 FINAL
Saint Peters 68
Oregon State 56 FINAL
California 73
South Florida 55 FINAL
Houston 72
Marquette 66 FINAL
Providence 77
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Wisconsin 68
Siena 57 FINAL
Monmouth 63
Pittsburgh 15 1st Half 8:36
Wake Forest 21
Oregon 6:00 PM
Purdue 6:30 PM
Ohio State
Arizona State 7:30 PM
Washington St 8:30 PM
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 50 FINAL
Elon 65 FINAL
Hofstra 58
Virginia Tech 47 FINAL
Boston College 49
(8) Louisville 59 FINAL
Virginia 75
Texas 69 FINAL
West Virginia 76
Creighton 53 FINAL
Villanova 61
Seton Hall 85 FINAL
Butler 76
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 65
(5) Maryland 69 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 48
Saint Josephs 67 FINAL
La Salle 55
Louisiana Tech 53 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 60
Rhode Island 70 FINAL
Massachusetts 78
Richmond 55 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 49
Davidson 46 FINAL
Fordham 54
St Bonaventure 43 FINAL
Duquesne 51
George Mason 45 FINAL
(22) George Washington 80
Indiana 60 FINAL
(20) Rutgers 71
(12) Texas A&M 63 FINAL
LSU 80
Ole Miss 47 FINAL
(11) Miss State 55
Clemson 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 61
Maine 47 FINAL
New Hampshire 61
Vermont 48 FINAL
Albany 76
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Monmouth 48
Saint Peters 47 FINAL
Siena 64
(4) Notre Dame 67 FINAL
NC State 60
Wisconsin 62 FINAL
Penn State 56
Stony Brook 49 FINAL
Hartford 56
Northeastern 47 FINAL
William & Mary 62
St Johns 61 FINAL
Xavier 74
James Madison 74 FINAL
Delaware 71
Towson 45 FINAL
Drexel 50
Illinois State 50 FINAL
Bradley 60
Southern Ill 74 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 70
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Wichita State 66
Minnesota 76 FINAL
(17) Iowa 92
(15) North Carolina 80 FINAL
(16) Duke 81
Alabama 73 FINAL
Auburn 80
(9) Florida State 69 FINAL
Miami-Florida 55
Arkansas 41 FINAL
Missouri 57
Georgia 52 FINAL
Florida 45
Dayton 95 FINAL
Saint Louis 68
Drake 57 FINAL
Missouri State 86
Colorado 46 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 59
(19) Stanford 55 FINAL
Oregon 62
Marquette 82 FINAL
DePaul 99
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 60
Vanderbilt 48 2nd Half 0:29
(6) Tennessee 79
(2) South Carolina 42 2nd Half 7:15
(13) Kentucky 53
Utah 41 FINAL
Arizona 64
Ohio State 78 FINAL
Nebraska 60


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