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2017-10-20 / Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue

Where we never fabricate, rarely recriminate, occasionally objurgate, sometimes speculate, usually obfuscate and always ameliorate.
By Brian Miller
HTF Columnist

Teddy Bridgewater returned to the practice field for the Minnesota Vikings Wednesday. Just 14 months ago, the 24-year-old quarterback suffered maybe the most gruesome non-contact injuries I’ve ever heard of. He was fortunate not to lose his leg.

Doctors told him he’d never play again. That he is back on the field is a minor miracle. It sounds trite, but it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. By all accounts, Bridgewater is a guy that lights up a room. He’s also a pretty decent quarterback who looked poised to make the next step before the dreadful knee injury.

The Super Bowl will be held at gorgeous U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis in February. No team has ever played a Super Bowl in its home stadium. Hmmm.

Getting way too ahead of myself there for a second. It’s the Vikings. The wheels always come off.

Right now though, it looks like the NFC North is there for the taking after Aaron Rodgers walked into A. Barr last week. Ba-da-dumchh! (Too soon? Never! And I know, you’ve heard that one a dozen times already.)

Case Keenum has been more than adequate in relief of gimpy Sam Bradford. He’s actually been pretty good. Were it not for a couple of tough fumbles against Detroit, the Vikings would be 5-1. Jerick McKinnon has done a pretty decent Dalvin Cook impression since the rookie went down for the season, too. Adam Thielen is as steady as they come at wide receiver, and even Laquon Treadwell has stepped off his milk carton to get involved in the offense.

The defense is good. We knew that. In a few weeks, the Vikings could have three options at quarterback. They took out their division rival’s MVP candidate with a perfectly clean hit.

Things are looking up in these parts just a couple of weeks after the Dalvin disappointment. Skol!

The NBA season kicked off Tuesday with one of the most gruesome leg injuries I’ve ever seen in any sport – I’m so thankful I never saw Teddy’s. Gordon Hayward, Boston’s glitzy free agent acquisition, had his leg go in a way that makes my stomach sick just thinking about it. That injury probably drops the Celtics from the Eastern Conference co-favorite to the back half of the playoff field.

Can you say out of sync? That’s how the Minnesota Timberwolves looked much of the night in their season opener at San Antonio Wednesday. The offense was clunky and often inefficient. The defense was disjointed. Coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t even play Jeff Teague, the point guard he dumped Ricky Rubio for, in the fourth quarter. The Wolves lost to a Spurs team that was missing two starters, veteran point guard Tony Parker and all-world forward Kawhi Leonard.

It was an inauspicious start, to say the least, for a team that has top four or five talent in the West, at least on paper. But the parts need to fit together more cohesively. Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins need to learn how to play together as scoring wings. Karl-Anthony Towns needs to become a better rim protector on defense. It was heartening to see better bench play, led by veteran sixth man Jamal Crawford.

But it’s a long season. This team which saw nearly half its roster turned over had played a grand total of three preseason games together so far and this dud to start the season. I still believe they’ll finish in the top five in the tough West behind Golden State, Oklahoma City, Houston and San Antonio with an outside chance to nip the Spurs for that fourth spot.

One thing’s for certain. Minnesota’s 13-year playoff drought is about to end.

Did anyone else see the Vegas Golden Knights jumping out to a 5-1 record to start the season? If so, I want some proof. It’s the best start by an expansion team I can remember – in any sport. Then again, the golden age of expansion was well before my time, so I haven’t seen all that many teams in my time.

Off the top of my head, in the NFL, I only remember the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995, the revived Cleveland Browns and the Houston Texans in 2002; in the MLB, just the Florida Marlins and Colorado Rockies in 1993 and the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1997; and in the NBA, the Miami Heat and Charlotte Hornets in 1988, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Orlando Magic in 1989, and the Vancouver Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors in 1995.

The NHL has been by far the most expansive in my lifetime, adding the San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Ottawa Senators, Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, Atlanta Thrashers, Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild in a flurry between 1991-2000. The Golden Knights are the first expansion team in any of the four major sports in 15 years. And they’re hot. In no way is this meant to minimize the tragedy of a few weeks ago, but Vegas’ start has been at least a bit of salve for a hurting town. Their pregame ceremony prior to their first home game was something to remember.

The Minnesota Wild haven’t played much yet – their four games played as of Wednesday were last in the league. And it’s probably a good thing, because boy are they banged up. Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreider, Zach Parise, Markus Foligno and Mikael Granlund are all hurt, though the latter two could be back this weekend. The Wild need to get back to health sooner than later so they don’t dig themselves

I was going to devote this space to decry the nauseating, contemptuous comments made by the rabid environmentalists in the recent article that ran in The New York Times magazine about the proposed copper/ nickel mining venture near my old stomping grounds of Babbitt, but dignifying such trash a response, well, I just didn’t want to waste my breath.

Some of the brightest, most conscientious, innovative, and articulate people I know are employed at local mines. They’re some of the hardest workers. My grandfather raised 11 kids, a large dairy farm and worked at various mines around the Range. My uncle is nearing retirement after 40 years at a local mine; all he did on the side was build up what started as a small strawberry farm to a permanent farmer’s market and restaurant. My father after being laid off from the mines when I was a child started his own business before eventually transitioning to the U.S. Post Office.

The people quoted in the Times story slandered a lot of good people. The source of those patronizing, condescending, inflammatory comments should be considered. The lunacy of the radical left is again duly noted.

Until next time…

Brian Miller is a longtime local writer who resides in Eveleth. He welcomes glowing accolades and scathing reviews at brianm@htfnews.us.

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