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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The results are in: Big Papi edges Jose Morban

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: May 15, 2014 - 1:17 AM

There’s nothing that gets me more upset than remembering the 1999 NFL Draft, when Dennis Green used the 29th overall selection to take defensive lineman Dimitrius Underwood, leaving another defensive lineman, Patrick Kerney, to go to Atlanta.

Wait. You know what gets me even more upset is when I recall the North Stars trading Bobby Smith to Montreal for Keith Acton and Mark Napier on Oct. 28, 1983. Bobby won a Stanley Cup in Montreal. So did the Stars – in Dallas.

Now that I think about it, what irritates me the most as a Minnesota sports loyalist is what happened on Oct. 26, 1956, when the Minneapolis Lakers traded point guard Slater (Dugie) Martin for center Walter Dukes. How could they trade our beloved Dugie for that large klutz?

Oh, yeah, there’s one more, when talking about worn-out grudges … that’s the Twins’ decision to release David Ortiz in Dec. 16, 2002, in order to make room for Rule 5 draftee Jose Morban.

Admittedly, the potential of the smooth-fielding Morban was close to unlimited at shortstop, but there has been a feeling in recent years that the Twins should have looked for an option other than Ortiz to release from that 40-man.

The Twins decided not to keep Morban in the spring of 2003. He was claimed by Baltimore, where he smote two home runs and knocked in five runs before seeing his big-league career come to an end.

Ortiz, now 38, has had a touch more staying power with the Red Sox.

On Wednesday night, Ortiz lucked into a couple of 420-footers into the upper deck in right-center at Target Field. The wind must have been blowing out, because these two were an average of 25 feet longer than the pair Ortiz hit off the Twins on Tuesday night.

All in all, it’s time for the Twins to concede that the Ortiz-Morban comparison has titled in David’s favor.

These four home runs in two nights put Ortiz’s total in Boston at 384 home runs. That sent him past Hall of Famer Jim Rice and into third place (behind Teddy Ballgame and Yaz) on the Red Sox’ all-time home run list.

David also has a tidy total of 1,217 RBI with Boston. And three World Series championships, which is three more than the Red Sox had in the 86 years between 1918 and 2004.

And, there’s also the greatest nickname among active big leaguers: Big Papi.

“They say this is a big ballpark,’’ A.J. Pierzynski said. “Papi doesn’t believe that.’’

Pierzynski and Ortiz were teammates on the 2002 Twins team that actually won a playoff series. Ortiz was dropped after that season, and A.J. was traded after the next.

They are reunited in Boston, with Pierzynski as a free-agent from last winter. The Twins also tried to sign him, what with his projected replacement back in 2004 – Joe Mauer – moving to first base for this season.

A.J. decided to take a one-year deal with the Red Sox over the two-year offer from the Twins, based on his belief the defending champs might have a better chance to win the 2014 World Series than did our three-time defending losers of 90-plus games.

As we media types waited for Big Papi in the visitors clubhouse, there was a conversation with A.J. in which I made this definitive statement:

“David turned out to be a better player than Jose Morban after all.’’

Pierzynski looked puzzled, and then the light bulb went on.

“Oh, yeah, that infielder we had in the spring who went to the Orioles,’’ A.J. said. “What I remember about him is a game in Baltimore. He tried to score and missed the plate.  He was over in the dugout. LaTroy [Hawkins] was pitching. I went out to the mound, explained that we were going to appeal, and the runner was going to be out. And then LaTroy messed it up by throwing me a pitchout – an actual pitch -- and we couldn’t appeal.’’

A few minutes later, Ortiz was asked by a Boston reporter if he’s motivated against the Twins because they released him “a few years ago.’’

Big Papi raised an eyebrow and said: “A few years ago? That was so long ago … I can’t even remember when it happened.’’

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