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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Sadly, Turkeys have lost their meaning to many

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: November 29, 2013 - 9:48 AM

NEW YORK -- Finally had a chance to check the reaction to the Turkey of the Year awards, which made it on-line late Wednesday night and appeared in Thursday's print edition. I did this column for 10 Thanksgvings (1978-87) at the St. Paul newspapers, and this was the 26th such effort since I started at the Star Tribune in June 1988.

The Turkey column is supposed to be a tribute to satire. As the author and Turkey Chairman, the toughest part of these 1,200 words involves the set-up. Once I get through that, I peruse the list of 40-50 candidates that has been assembled and trim that down to a workable number.

This time, I wanted to try to make light of the fiasco of the Obamacare rollout. I also wanted to give attention to the fact the New England Patriots were home to a star tight end who has been indicted for one murder, and might have been in on another one or two in his past.

It took a couple of hours to put those few paragraphs together. The audience that I write for (me) was satisfied, and after that, the actual naming of the Turkey guests and winner was a cruise.

From the start, there were notes of disagreement mailed over the ultimate choice of "The Committee.'' It took the dawning of e-mails in the mid-'90s to realize that a fair number of Minnesotans actually were angry when their candidate did not win.

This year's grand gobbler was Terry Ryan. He came back as GM in November 2011. The Twins had spent two years getting farther behind the competition when it comes to modern player evaluation, diversity in the coaching staff and spending money.

As chairman of The Committee, I was hopeful that the Twins were going to stand idle until Friday when it came to spending money on a starting pitcher of significance. If news of the Ricky Nolasco deal had not surfaced until then, the Turkey Chairman could have claimed it was the influence of this award that caused Ryan to finally act.

No matter.

Once The Committee has held its final deliberation, nothing can change the outcome.

Plus, as Thursday's column stated, the chairman is convinced that Ryan has been dragged kicking and screaming by ownership to spend money on helpful free agents ... rather than Ryan begging for money from the Pohlads.

The readers' reaction this time included a call for Zygi Wilf to be high on the list, if not the winner. Those protesting failed to consider Zygi was the Turkey of the Year in 2011, thus offering more evidence that The Committee has a tendency to be ahead of the curve when it comes to the Turkeys.

There were also a couple of e-mails ripping the chairman for having named Jerry Kill as the Turkey of the Year in 2012 -- and what did I think about that now?

Country Jer merely was an invited guest in 2012, for demanding the $800,000 buyout of a series against less-than-mediocre North Carolina.

The actual Turkey of the Year for 2012 was Tubby Smith. As you might recall, there was optimism about the 2012-13 Gophers at that time. The Chairman received considerable ridicule for the Tubby selection. Again, we proved to be way ahead of the curve.

There were also a handful of Gopher zealots ripping these Turkeys for not including Jim Souhan, the Star Tribune's four-days-a-week sports columnist. These provincial folks remained upset over Souhan's column after Kill missed the second half of the Western Illinois game with a seizure.

Souhan's main point -- that Kill had to get his epilepsy under control if he was to continue as the Gophers' coach -- was 100 percent valid. Colleague or not, Souhan wasn't in the running for a Turkey invite.

As this reaction was taking place in Minnesota, the bride and I were celebrating Thanksgiving in Manhattan for the first time since 1983. We've been to two musicals, "Motown'' and "Once,'' and two high-brow movies, "The Book Thief'' and "Philomena.''

The only thing that can save me from the ultimate test in this orgy of culture is if I my guy Mike at Ticket King can't scrounge up two tickets to the sold-out opening of the seasonal "Nutcracker'' ballet tonight at Lincoln Center.

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