This has been the year when Pete Rose turned out to be a liar and Steve Garvey turned out to be a two legged version of Seattle Slew. This has been the year when Wade Boggs cried on Barbara Wa-Wa's shoulder. This has been the year when an inspection of Bob Probert's shorts revealed cocaine, and when an inspection of Thomas Strauthers revealed the high standards of journalism we've grown to expect from KARE-11. This has been the year of drunks and druggies - Roy Tarpley, Dexter Manley, Kevin Mack, Charles Thompson and Pat Valenzuela, to name a few. This has been the year when a local entrepreneur revealed a sweatshirt reading "Minnesota D.W.I.kings." This has been the year when Alex Stewart passed his steroid test in Minnesota, then failed it in Dallas. This has been such an astounding year in sports that the Turkey Committee needed isolation to make its decisions. Never has it been so difficult to reduce the number of invitations to the banquet to an elite few. Never has it been so difficult to select the year's No. 1 gobble-head.
There could be no distractions during the committee's deliberations. So, we came here to eastern North Carolina, where isolation is a way of life, where there are no distractions, where the four-star restaurants are El Mejicano and Pizza Hut. Now we know why it was that - not far from here - Orville and Wilbur Wright invented the airplane. They wanted to leave.
The decisions have been made. The invitations have been mailed. The place cards have been set for the 12th Turkey Banquet. It is with pride the committee introduces the 1989 honorees as they prepare to enter the Great Turkey Hall:
Anthony Carter. There were many Vikings worthy of an invitation, but there was unanimous agreement that none of the purple turkeys distinguished himself more than Carter. People figured Carter was letting out the frustration of a salary dispute when he said, "They might as well trade me because I'm not going to put my best foot forward." With 68.8 percent of the schedule complete, A.C. has convinced the committee it wasn't frustration. He was speaking the truth. Dan Gladden and Kent Hrbek. There was sentiment that an invitation should be sent to Frank Viola, the departed Twins pitcher, for his early-season whining. Viola was rejected and the Minnesota baseball honorees are Gladden and Hrbek, the two guys who ripped Viola – a pitcher who never missed a start in 7 1/2 years with the Twins - between their stays on the disabled list.
Dave Anderson. A Pulitzer Prize winner and a fine gentleman, Anderson, a Sport of the Times columnist for the New York Times, has been asked to represent all of the knee-jerk sportswriters who backedthe idiotic notion that the World Series should have been canceled after the Bay Area earthquake.
Dr. Earl Benson. He's the band director from the Bloomington schools, and he has been the man responsible for the musical festivities at the Prep Bowl. Benson also was the man responsible for
the fact that Cretin-Derham Hall and Blaine still were playing at midnight during last year's Prep Bowl. Wonderful news: Benson's interminable, mass-band concert at halftime of the Class AA title game has been dumped for Saturday's Prep Bowl.
Tony Hunter. It is stars such as Hunter, a former running back, who made Minnesotans so proud of the Golden Gophers. Tony still hasn't figured how much it was he received under the table. His public estimates have ranged from $1,000 early in the Luther Darville investigation to $15,000 during Darville's trial. That's not counting what the Gophers spent on Hunter for electricity to run the whirlpool, where he spent most of his career.
William Killingsworth. This is the man behind Killingsworth Associates, a Massachusetts-based consulting firm specializing in sports market analysis. It was a Killingsworth study that said
Canterbury Downs' outrageous projections for attendance and handle - projections needed to make the track financially feasible - could be met. Killingsworth said the same thing about the Birmingham Turf Club, which went dark in less than a year.
Rudy Perpich. The committee considered honoring the Gov for pushing a soccer-and-track complex in Blaine, in view of the fact that these two sports have the fan appeal of tae kwon do in Minnesota. The committee considered honoring the Gov for allowing his yahoos at the amateur sports commission to pay a $600,000 fee for an event – the World Masters Games - that no other area in the world would want. The committee finally decided to honor the Gov for telling his appointee, Ron Gornick of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, to push through free rent at the Metrodome for Carl Pohlad's Twins. The Giants were willing to pay $7 million in rent to get a new stadium in San Francisco. The voters rejected the deal. Here, Pohlad gets free rent to
play inside what was already a gold mine for him, and the taxpayers don't get a chance to express an opinion.
Bob Stein. Already, Pat Williams, president of the Orlando Magic, has written a book on the building of an NBA expansion team. Now Stein, the president of the Timberwolves, is using this first season to do research for his book: "Ruining a Good Thing: How Not to Run an NBA Franchise."
Jeff Passolt. It's not easy for a local turkey to beat a nationally prominent gobbler, but Passolt, one of Tom Ryther's caddies at KARE-11, knocked ABC's simpering Al Michaels off the invitation list
with a late rush. Michaels had a lock on it by trying to pass himself off as a compelling journalist because he knew the Bay Bridge connected San Francisco and Oakland. Then, the KARE-11 cameras caught the unsuspecting Strauthers relieving himself, and Passolt pleaded for forgiveness by telling viewers he really, really wants the Vikings to go to the Super Bowl. Is it too early for the Kare Bears to start wearing their purple caps on the set?
Bart Giamatti. The baseball commissioner was a front-runner for the Grand Turkey Award for his incompetent handling of the Rose matter. Then, he up and died. George Steinbrenner said of Giamatti: "He will go down as baseball's greatest commissioner," quite a distinction for a guy who lasted longer in office than Pope John Paul I, but not as long as Konstantin Chernenko. The committee could think of no one more appropriate than Steinbrenner (Grand Turkey, 1981) to represent Giamatti at today's banquet. We also will be honoring the Turkey Team of the Decade, reserving space for University of Minnesota hockey players. The Gophers accomplished the astounding feat of avoiding a national championship during the decade. The committee issued invitations to Mike Anderson and Brian Zins, to symbolize failed Gophers' title hopes, A to Z.
That gets us to the moment when the 1989 Grand Turkey will step forward to take a place on the wall of champions: Woody Hayes (1978), Pete Rozelle and Bowie Kuhn (1979), Bobby Knight (1980), Steinbrenner, Billy Martin (1982), Paul Giel (1983), Les Steckel (1984), Lou Holtz (1985), Kenneth Keller (1986), Pohlad (1987) and Lou Nanne (1988).
If you scan that list, it becomes obvious there is a turkey in our midst who demands recognition. This gentleman has been nominated often, but he has never received his due as the No. 1 drum-stiff of them all. The time has come.
For stabbing Jim Finks in the back, for being so detested by employees that the best group of players around refuses to win, for taking an entire football operation to Charlotte, N.C., so you could be introduced at halftime of a basketball game, for treating a good man such as Darrin Nelson like dirt, for the smirk that won't go away . . .
Yes, for all you do, Mike Lynn, this Grand Turkey is for you.