Not mentioned among the team-building pros in Dan Levitt’s newest book are the 1987 or 1991 Minnesota Twins. The 1936 Yankees, 1963 Dodgers, 1975 Reds and 2010 Giants get their due in “In Pursuit of Pennants,” by Mark Armour and his Minnesota-based co-author Levitt, who laughed unbridled when I noted the absence of Twins. “You’re right. I suppose it would have helped to get local publicity,” he said.

Despite the omission, this book by Levitt, whose day job is senior veep of capital markets for Ryan Companies, while Armour is an Oregon-based software engineer, has been getting lots of attention outside of Flyover Land. The calls it a “must read” and includes it among the season’s best baseball books.

“Mark and I have always been interested in team building and how teams are put together and why some teams do well and some don’t,” said Levitt. “We had another book we did about 15 years ago that was similar, ‘Paths to Glory.’ Our thoughts have evolved since then. … We thought we had something new to say about team building and how front offices evolved. The short story on the book is ‘Moneyball’ is one of many examples of how teams are always looking for a competitive advantage. Teams have always been looking for ways to improve, whether it’s inventing the position of general manager in the ’20s, starting a farm system in the ’30s or combining the high-speed computing and video today. …

“The ’63 Dodgers were the concept of what they called ‘The Dodger Way,’ figuring out how to do training throughout the whole organization. The Giants were one of the first teams to use high tech in terms of video and how to prevent pitcher injuries. Different teams had different themes.”

What would be the theme of a Levitt book about the seat-of-their-pants, pre-Moneyball 1987 and 1991 World Series champion Twins? “Great scouting,” said Levitt. “Andy MacPhail, the GM, has another shot at team building with the Phillies. With the Twins, MacPhail inherited a pretty good nucleus and filled in nicely around it.”

Here is Levitt’s interview about the book on MLB Network with Brian Kenny:

Herschel on the Vikings era

Vikings “coaches didn’t say hardly any words to me the three years I was there,” Herschel Walker told national radio show host Scott Ferrall.

“That’s crazy,” said Ferrall, whose voice I can just barely tolerate.

Perhaps coaches knew that when Walker’s number was called he was always going to run like the devil was chasing him.

Walker being traded from Dallas to the Vikings, in what is considered one of the worst transactions of all time, “will never happen again,” said Walker. “Right now players are so valuable. Back then the Cowboys really needed a draft pick and the Vikings really didn’t need a player. They had the players, but they needed some type of things within the community. I think I was that bridge between the community and the football team. It was weird because Minnesota had all the players [it] needed but a [disconnect] with the community.”

I don’t know about what Walker is speaking here. And while I did not hear the entire interview, the 3 minutes and 40 seconds I caught were devoid of Walker referring to himself in the third person, a grammatical area in which he once racked up HOF numbers. Maybe someone whose opinion he respects told him how stupid that sounds. I still love you, Herschel, and don’t understand why you’re not in the Hall of Fame.

No hugs, just kisses

Sarita Kalra, who owns Bloomington’s Tandoor restaurant with her husband, Kul, fell recently and badly hurt her left shoulder. They were running errands, he was sitting in the car watching her walk back to it and when he turned his head, he didn’t see her or know where she had gone until he heard screaming.

It’s one of those injuries that get better with each passing week, but for a while caused a look of horror to wash across her face whenever someone appeared on the verge of giving the normally affectionate Sarita a hug. When I was discussing how it’s better to simply hug the air around her these days, the romantic devil who’s been her husband for 44 years said he’s limiting displays of affection to “only kisses.”


C.J. can be reached at and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” doesn’t count. Attachments are not opened.