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St. Thomas departure from MIAC sets up awkward two years for league

The spare, two-paragraph news release from the MIAC announcing the departure of St. Thomas from the conference didn’t provide a lot of details or elaboration.

But the 94-word release, advertised on the conference web site under the unassuming headline “MIAC announces conference membership change,” provides three key points that allow for the mind to wander and expand a bit.

1) The words “involuntarily removed” in regards to St. Thomas’ membership in the MIAC are key. It’s a reiteration that St. Thomas didn’t want this, and that the key drivers were other schools.

2 “The MIAC Presidents’ Council cites athletic competitive parity in the conference as a primary concern” is telling.

Well, at least we don’t have to guess about motivation any more. Maybe St. Thomas’ undergraduate enrollment was also a factor — more students means more athletes which can contribute to that competitive parity.

But a bunch of schools in the conference were tired of losing to the Tommies at just about everything — especially football, and especially by lopsided scores like 97-0, which was the final when St. Thomas played St. Olaf in 2017. Like it or not, at least we know.

Competitively, St. Thomas and a lot of the rest of the MIAC are bad matches. The argument of St. Thomas supporters is that other schools should try to rise up to compete. The argument of detractors is that St. Thomas is winning a game that is rigged in its favor. I can see both sides.

3 “St. Thomas will begin a multi-year transition immediately and meanwhile is eligible to compete as a full member of the MIAC through the end of spring 2021.”

This part is necessary with schedules already set and processes taking time. But this is the part where things could get really awkward and/or interesting depending on your point of view.

This means St. Thomas, which has been “involuntarily removed” — if you’ve ever been involuntarily removed from a bar, you realize it’s a polite term for kicked out — will likely have two more full seasons of competing against MIAC schools, the large majority of whom orchestrated the Tommies’ ouster for being too good or winning by too many points.

I have placed a figurative circle around Nov. 2, 2019 — the date St. Thomas is scheduled to travel to St. Olaf for a football game.

It’s hard to get more lopsided than 97-0, but I’m not sure there’s a point spread big enough if St. Thomas goes into that game especially angry about how all this went down.

The Tommies might publicly say all the right things. But with nothing to lose in the next two years, we’ll see how ugly the wins get.

Then again, the MIAC statement did conclude: “St. Thomas is one of seven founding members of the MIAC and will leave the conference in good standing with a long and appreciated history of academic and athletic success.”

Maybe everyone will really appreciate the next two years?

Wild missed out on wide open playoffs at worst possible time

Welcome to the Wednesday edition of The Cooler, where our reward for all this better be a glorious Memorial Day Weekend. Let’s get to it:

*Of all the years for the Wild to miss the playoffs … this was a bad one.

It doesn’t happen every postseason, or even most postseasons in the NHL. But every few years or so, the NHL playoffs turn into a ridiculous free-for-all where seeding doesn’t matter.

When the opportunity for upsets is so prevalent, being a team consistently good enough to squeeze into the playoffs is a decent strategy for trying to win a championship.

Unfortunately for the Wild, it couldn’t take that strategy far enough in its six consecutive seasons making the playoffs from 2013-18. Minnesota advanced twice to the second round as a lower seed, but each time the Wild was stymied by Chicago. In the 2017 playoffs, the Wild was bounced early as a higher seed while Nashville emerged from the bottom of the Western Conference.

This season, though, is the widest of wide open. I could take you through the entire postseason spectrum, but here’s all you really need to know:

After the games of Jan. 2, the St. Louis Blues had 34 points. They had the very worst record in the NHL, as no team had fewer points than that. Even the Wild had 39 points. But the Blues on Tuesday defeated the Sharks in the Western Conference Finals and are headed to the Stanley Cup Finals to face Boston.

The Wild missed out on all the fun in the worst year possible.

*MLB prospect Carter Stewart is reportedly eschewing the draft system and instead will sign a six-year professional contract in Japan for $7 million.

Stewart could then be a free agent after six years when he’s 25 — after making more money in Japan than he presumably would have made via a signing bonus and salary in MLB. It will be interesting to see if more baseball players test this strategy as a work-around for MLB’s tight salary restrictions around service time.

*The Orioles have allowed 100 home runs already this season (with the Twins contributing mightily to that total). MLB continues to be on a record pace for home runs. At the current rate, there will be 6,346 home runs hit this season. That’s 200-plus more than the record-setting year of 2017 (and 2,000 more than in 2014).

*If the All-NBA teams are announced on the same schedule as a year ago, we will find out Thursday who is on the three teams.

This is of particular interest to Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves because if he makes one of the three teams this season, it will trigger a significant raise in his contract extension.

His salary next season would jump from $27.2 million to $32.7 million, a boost of $5.5 million. Over the length of his five-year deal, he would earn $189.7 million if he is named All-NBA this season. If not, he will earn $158 million. Both are unfathomable sums of money, but it’s still a difference of almost $32 million over five years — both for Towns and on the Wolves’ salary cap.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

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  • Chicago at Saints

    7:05 pm on 96.7-FM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    6 pm

  • Sioux City at Saints

    7:05 pm on 96.7-FM

  • Chicago White Sox at Twins

    7:10 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    12:45 pm

  • Chicago White Sox at Twins

    1:10 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Houston at Loons

    7 pm on FSN PLUS, 1500-AM

  • Chicago at Lynx

    7 pm on FSN, CBSSN, 106.1-FM

  • Sioux City at Saints

    7:05 pm on 96.7-FM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    12:45 pm

  • Chicago White Sox at Twins

    1:10 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Sioux City at Saints

    5:05 pm on 96.7-FM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    12:45 pm

  • Saints at Lincoln

    5:05 pm on 96.7-FM

  • Milwaukee at Twins

    6:10 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Saints at Lincoln

    7:05 pm on 96.7-FM

  • Milwaukee at Twins

    7:10 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Loons at Atlanta United

    6 pm on FSN, 1500-AM

  • Seattle at Lynx

    7 pm on CBSSN, 106.1-FM

  • Saints at Lincoln

    7:05 pm on 96.7-FM

Today's Scoreboard

  • Washington

    NY Mets

    11:10 AM

  • NY Yankees

    Baltimore

    11:35 AM

  • Colorado

    Pittsburgh

    11:35 AM

  • Boston

    Toronto

    11:37 AM

  • Miami

    Detroit

    12:10 PM

  • Philadelphia

    Chicago Cubs

    1:20 PM

  • Atlanta

    San Francisco

    2:45 PM

  • Minnesota

    LA Angels

    3:07 PM

    FSN

  • Tampa Bay

    Cleveland

    5:10 PM

  • Chicago White Sox

    Houston

    7:10 PM

No NFL games today

  • Toronto

    Milwaukee

    7:30 PM

    TNT

No NHL games today

No MLS games today