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Weekend Links with Jon Marthaler: What if Twins minor league games were always on?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Professional baseball Updated: June 15, 2013 - 9:58 AM

Monday, the Twins had an off day, and so Fox Sports North decided to show a mid-afternoon game featuring the Twins' Single-A affiliate in Cedar Rapids. The story of the day was Kernels center fielder Byron Buxton, one of the best prospects the Twins have had in living memory; Buxton doubled, tripled, drove in three runs, and made one of the best catches you'll ever see anywhere. By the end of the afternoon, he'd become a folk hero in Minnesota, and people were openly wondering whether a 19-year-old could jump over three levels in the minors and debut for the Twins.

I'm not sure if FSN had ever broadcasted a game from a Twins affiliate before, but by the end of Monday, I was wishing they would do it all the time. It'd be great to check in on Miguel Sano in New Britain, to see how Liam Hendriks is throwing at Rochester, to check out Jose Berrios and Eddie Rosario and the rest of the prospects in the Twins' system. Unfortunately, FSN has limited time in the schedule, and won't be showing other games. Frankly, it's enough to make me wish that we had Victory Sports back.

We're not too far away from the 10th anniversary of the Twins' ill-fated cable network, which launched in October of 2003. The channel died partway through 2004, after cable companies refused point-blank to pay ESPN-type money to carry a channel that had the Twins and basically nothing else. But what if it had lived? What if it had grown into a Twins-centered but baseball-obsessed channel that needed unique content? We could have had all of the Kernels we could watch, and maybe all the Rock Cats and the Red Wings and the Miracle, too. It would have been a prospect hound's nirvana.

Ten years ago, as I railed against Victory Sports holding Twins games hostage, I could hardly have dreamed of the smorgasbord of televised sports I'd have available in the year 2013 - and Rochester games are already available to watch online, for a fee, so I suppose nirvana is on its way. Still, I can only wonder what might have been if we'd given Victory Sports a chance. Maybe we'd already have the option of turning off the Twins - and turning on the Kernels.

*On with the links: 

*I really enjoyed Matt Crossman's SB Nation story, which I cannot describe better than the title: "How NASCAR saved my daughter."

*Patrick Reusse had a chance to revisit his column from the Gophers' 38-35 loss to Michigan in 2003, otherwise known as the worst night of my life.

*Parker Hageman of Twins Daily sat down with Dick Bremer to talk stats, and what is and is not appropriate to throw into an FSN Twins broadcast. Key quote: "We're still wondering once or twice a year if we should explain the infield fly rule."

*Much is made of baseball losing its title as the National Pastime to football; that said, it's pretty clear to me that baseball is still pretty solid in second place. For example, Tuesday the NBA Finals went head-to-head with regular-season baseball, followed by the Stanley Cup Finals doing the same on Wednesday - and they both got waxed in the ratings by middling baseball games in a bunch of big markets.

*And finally: Now Tiger Woods is just bullying people.

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