Patrick Reusse: Earth to Vikings and Twins, give up your delusions

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 8, 2012 - 1:12 AM

Those in charge of Minnesota's top two sports teams are making matters worse by not dealing with the ugly reality of 2011.


Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf, President of the Minnesota Vikings

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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You need franchises in the NFL and Major League Baseball to be a genuine big-league area. The rest of the teams are nice fillers on the schedule, but the NFL and baseball, those are what count.

There has been considerable delusion coming from those camps -- the Twins, with their actions in the wake of their second-worst record (63-99) in 51 seasons, and the Vikings, with their words after tying for the worst record (3-13) in the same number of seasons.

That makes the Twins' delusion much more of a concern than the Vikings', since actions speaking louder than words is a truth rather than a mere cliché.

The Vikings' absurdities were demonstrated mostly in comments from the Wilfs, Zygi and Mark, and we can't be sure if this was actual delusion by the owners, or simply an attempt to put lipstick on a pig.

The Zygmeister said something to a handful of reporters about the Vikings "being close to their goals," and offered this when asked for an explanation:

"We're not far from it because a couple of years ago we were very close to it. So, you realize in professional sports, and especially in professional football and the way the system is set up, that competitive balances are so close. ... Things can change and things can turn."

Let's get this straight, Zygi:

In January 2010, your team went to overtime in New Orleans in the NFC title game, and two seasons later the Saints are just as good (and maybe better), and your club is 3-13, and you're offering that as a reason for optimism?

That's a prima facie case of delusion, but again, it's also an owner with a record for not being able to put together coherent sentences in media situations, so we can't be sure Wilf actually believed what he was saying.

The same holds true for brother Mark, the team president, when he was quoted thusly: "There's no reason we can't be back where we were just a short time ago -- on top of the division and getting to where we want to be."

Then again, Mark, there are those 11 consecutive losses to the NFC North rivals, and there are those quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler, that could be three good reasons that believing the Vikings can get back to where you want to be in a short time is another grand example of delusion.

Unless, where you and big brother want the Vikings to be is Los Angeles -- but that's an altogether different issue.

What's important for the future of the on-field product is where Rick Spielman, now officially the general manager, sees the Vikings. And the folks that track him on a daily basis are convinced that Spielman sees the need for a massive turnover in the 30-35 players that have taken up most of the playing time on a Sunday afternoon.

Spielman sees the need to get much younger. He's not going to use the term "rebuilding," but he certainly seems fixated on what's important:

Where the Vikings are at the moment, not where they were on Jan. 23, 2010.

That's a healthy contrast to the behavior of the Twins in the 102 days since they ended the Year of Misery.

The immediate reaction from GM Bill Smith and manager Ron Gardenhire was to place the blame on injuries, and to suggest good health and a few tweaks to the roster would allow the Twins to reverse those 32 games behind Detroit and return to contention in the AL Central.

There was hope in November that reality would be back in play, when Smith got the boot as GM and Terry Ryan returned to the position. There was hope that Ryan would see the 2011 Twins for what they were: a 90-loss team even with normal health on the roster.

You hoped that Ryan saw what he had here was lousy pitching, bad fielding and punch-and-Joey hitting. You hoped that he would tell his manager to prepare to start the rebuilding in April with players such as infielder Brian Dozier, catcher Chris Herrmann and outfielder Rene Tosoni getting plenty of run, with Glen Perkins as a closer, and younger arms wherever possible.

Instead, the Twins have brought back Matt Capps to close, brought in Jason Marquis to start, and brought in three position players aged 31 to 38 as if filling holes on a contender.

It has been a series of actions that makes the Twins the clear-cut champs of delusion when it comes to the Big Two in Minnesota sports.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500ESPN. •

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