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Boomers, millennials? Whatever. It's Gen X coaches winning titles here

Welcome to the Friday edition of The Cooler, where it’s always about me. Let’s get to it:

*Generation X isn’t Generation Xs and Os, at least when it comes to high-profile Minnesota head coaches.

That wasn’t the big-picture takeaway, of course, from colleague Rachel Blount’s interesting look at the five 30-something coaches of high-profile Minnesota sports teams currently in charge. But as a bona fide member of Generation X, I couldn’t help but notice an interesting gap.

In the chart accompanying the story, 11 coaches were listed. Four of them were 57 or older — certified Baby Boomers Bruce Boudreau, Wild (64), Mike Zimmer, Vikings (62), Adrian Heath, United (58) and Bob Motzko, U men’s hockey (57).

And then there were the five coaches 38 or younger, all of whom classify as Millennials if we accept that the birth year for that generation starts in 1980: P.J. Fleck, Gophers football (38); Rocco Baldelli, Twins (37); Lindsay Whalen, Gophers women’s basketball (36); Richard Pitino, Gophers men’s basketball (36); and Ryan Saunders, Wolves (32).

Three of those Millennial coaches have taken over within the last year, including the most recent (Saunders) as an interim.

That leaves only two of the 11 in Generation X: Brad Frost, 45, with Gophers women’s hockey and Cheryl Reeve, 52, with the Lynx.

Research suggests that Generation X is ascending to the majority of business leadership roles and is playing a key role shaping society — contrary, perhaps, to the narratives the surrounding generations would like to advance — but that’s not playing out in Minnesota sports.

Maybe it’s just a small sample size and a blip on the radar?

Maybe stakeholders are buying into the stereotype — sometimes humorously portrayed — that Xers are the middle children between two more celebrated generations?

Maybe at least on the young side, millennial head coaches appeal to (and are being exploited by) team owners for their willingness to work crazy hours in the wake of coming of age in a time of economic insecurity, fierce job competition and massive expectations? (I’m not sure if Malcolm Harris, author of the excellent “Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials” would agree with this hypothesis, but reading his book at least led me to consider the possibility).

More than anything, I just find it interesting. And I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that in spite of the low representation, the generational Minnesota coaching championship standings among the 11 coaches reads:

Generation X: 8 (four each for Frost and Reeve), Millennials + Boomers: 0.

*Sometimes sports are very good. Mitch Marner of the Maple Leafs made sure of that on Valentine’s Day.

*The Anthony Davis drama in New Orleans took a turn Thursday when the star was hurt — but probably not injured — in a victory over the Thunder. An MRI showed a shoulder contusion (a fancy word for a bruise) — a procedure Davis obtained when he left the building with his agent during the game and did not come back. Davis, of course, wants a trade. But he’s stuck on the Pelicans through the rest of the season. Head coach Alvin Gentry is not really pleased with any of it. Per ESPN:

I’m happy for all of them,” Gentry said after the Pelicans handed the Thunder only their second loss during Russell Westbrook‘s record streak of 11 consecutive triple-doubles. “Because to tell you the truth, this whole thing has been a dumpster fire. … We want guys to be professional and we want them to do this, but it’s hard for guys to go through what they’ve been through. And to be able to come out and beat a team of that quality, I’m happy for all the guys. I just thought they did a great job.”

Asked if it bothered him that Davis left the building, Gentry repeated that he was “happy for the guys that played the game and we won.”

It's telling that Buxton, Sano not part of Twins' contract extension news

The Twins and two of their young players reportedly agreed to win-win long-term contract extensions Thursday — deals that give the Twins a measure of cost-certainty while giving the young players financial security.

The two who received deals — shortstop Jorge Polanco and outfielder Max Kepler — aren’t terribly surprising.

After a torrid finish to 2017, Polanco had a disappointing drug suspension in the first half of 2018. But he returned for a productive second half and should be a middle infield mainstay with power and reasonable defense.

Kepler’s progress seems to have hit a frustrating stall point, but if his floor is as a 2+ WAR corner outfielder with speed, pop and fielding ability, a five-year deal for $35 million total hardly seems outlandish.

Both deals could end up being great value for the Twins if the players take another step forward. And in both cases, neither the contracts themselves nor the fear of regression should give anyone too much concern.

Tucked into Phil Miller’s strong reporting on these two deals is another sentence:

All-Star pitcher Jose Berrios, outfielder Eddie Rosario and reliever Taylor Rogers are also in line for longer contracts.

All three are, indeed, excellent candidates for similar deals. They might even be the three most deserving with all things considered.

What’s striking — though not surprising — in all this, though, is the absence of two names: Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano.

It’s striking because those are the highest-upside guys off the bunch — the potential superstars whose every movement we have been tracking for years.

It’s not surprising because if you were the Twins, would you be ready to commit long-term money to either one — even if there was a chance there could be a massive payoff if they turn a corner and become more consistent?

The answer after a disastrous 2018 season for both players is no.

There’s still time, of course. Both players are arbitration-eligible starting in 2020. If things take an upward turn this season, you could still envision long-term deals that buy out the arbitration years and a slice of free agency.

But right now? Unfortunately for both the Twins and both players, there’s still far too much to prove.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

< >
  • Penn State at Gophers women's basketball

    1 pm on BTN, 96.7-FM

  • St. Louis at Wild

    2 pm on Ch. 11, 100.3-FM

  • Anaheim at Wild

    7 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Wild at N.Y. Rangers

    6 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Gophers women's basketball at Maryland

    6 pm on 96.7-FM

  • Michigan at Gophers men's basketball

    6 pm on ESPN2, 103.5/1130

  • Gophers women's hockey at Bemidji State

    3:07 pm

  • Timberwolves at New York

    6:30 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Wild at Detroit

    6:30 pm on FSN PLUS/NHLN, 100.3-FM

  • Notre Dame at Gophers men's hockey

    8 pm on BTN, 103.5/1130

  • Twins (ss) vs. Baltimore (spring training)

    12:05 pm

  • Gophers women's hockey at Bemidji State

    3:07 pm

  • Notre Dame at Gophers men's hockey

    4:30 pm on FSN, 103.5/1130

  • Tampa Bay vs. Twins (ss) (spring training)

    5:05 pm

  • Timberwolves at Milwaukee

    7:30 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Twins vs. Boston (spring training)

    12:05 pm on 830-AM

  • Gophers men's basketball at Rutgers

    5:30 pm on BTN, 103.5/1130

  • St. Louis at Wild

    6 pm on NBCSN, 100.3-FM

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