Archive for General

The Veterans against the Gunslingers

I was considering many different topics these week for this column. Unfortunately, everything locally seems pretty bleak. The Vikings didn’t make the playoffs. The Wild recently lost to two of the worst teams in the NHL. The Timberwolves let Butler get his revenge in a 149-107 shellacking, which is more points given up than some All-Star games.

I thought about the upcoming weekend and decided to look at the NFL playoffs, since there are a couple of very intriguing match-ups that are going to take place Sunday afternoon.

Both games feature a veteran Hall of Fame QB squaring off with up-and-coming potential stars of the future. In the NFC, we have 40 year old Drew Brees of the Saints on one side of the field with 24 year old 3rd year QB in Jared Goff of the Rams on the other.

The Saints come into the game after a 13-3 season and a squeaky win against the Eagles last week. Boasting the 3rd highest scoring offense and a top half defense, a balanced effort makes the New Orleans tough to beat – it seems like they bounced back from the Minneapolis Miracle reasonably well.

On the other side are the Rams who use the 2nd best offense in the league to outscore teams. Their defense isn’t as great statistically, but they have the players that can perform on an individual game basis.

In the AFC, it is a similar story at the QB position. On one end, we have truly the greatest quarterback of all time in Tom Brady, who at 41 years old looked quite spry as the Patriots dominated the Chargers last week. The Chiefs bring to the table an MVP candidate in 2nd year gunslinger Patrick Mahomes.

The Patriots had a down year, as far as the Patriots are concerned. Finishing with only 11 wins, it seemed New England kind of took on the Golden State Warriors strategy. Get through the regular season without getting hurt or showing too much strategy and turn it on in the playoffs. I’d say their 41-28 trouncing of the Chargers more than proved that theory correct.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs found themselves the Steph Curry of football in Patrick Mahomes. Throwing for almost 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns led to 35 points per game and 12 wins. The Chiefs are surely looking to outscore everyone on their way to a Super Bowl.

When looking at both of these games, it really boils down to one x-factor in my mind. Do you want experience or youth at the quarterback position in a big game? In those pressure moments, when every single throw counts, who do you want leading your team down the field?

Goff and Mahomes have not been in a moment this big before while Brees and Brady have been there so many times that it is tough to count. Goff and Mahomes will have their moment eventually, but I’d like to see two of the greatest ever to play the game in one final duel and that is exactly what’s going to happen.

Lil Kickers soccer has landed in Delano

Lil Kickers MN has announced a partnership with Wright County Soccer Club to run the Lil Kickers Child Development Soccer Program at the Edge in Delano.

The program starts with 18-month olds and runs up to 5-year olds. It focuses on games incorporating movement, communication, and all around fun.

For more information go to www.lilkickersmn.com.

Funeral notice: Janice Daly, 81, of Loretto

LORETTO, MN – Janice Yvonne (Monnie) Daly, “Jan”, 81, of Loretto, died Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Memorial Mass of Christian Burial will be Saturday, Dec. 29 at 11 a.m. at Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Loretto. Gathering of family and friends is one hour prior to the Mass at the church. The Iten Funeral Home in Delano is handling the arrangements.

What Really Matters?

After working for KFAN for a couple years, I got to know a lot of the talent and became big fans of their shows. One of my favorite shows to listen to (usually on a daily basis) is The Power Trip Morning Show. Every morning at 6:30 am or so they do a segment called “What Really Matters”.

If you’ve ever listened to the show, you already know that although it is a “sports-talk” station, they definitely don’t like to dwell on sports for too long. In this segment, Cory Cove reads of a boring stat or sports fact and as they put it, Chris Hawkey reads something that will change your life and has nothing to do with professional or amateur athletics.

This article is What Really Matters on paper.

The Minnesota Timberwolves blew a 14 point 4th quarter lead on Wednesday to fall to the Detroit Pistons in overtime 129-124. The Pistons scored 40 points in the 4th quarter as the Wolves fall to 14-17 on the season. Derrick Rose had 33 points and 7 assists in 38 minutes in the loss.

The Minnesota Vikings play the Detroit Lions this Sunday at noon at Ford Field. At 7-6-1, the Vikings control their own destiny when it comes to making the playoffs. With wins against the Lions and Bears, the Vikings will be the 6th seed at worst. If the Seattle Seahawks lose to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, the Vikings could potentially even jump to the 5th seed.

Now for What Really Matters.

Tim Parochka, my cousin, has returned home for Christmas. I’m sure most of you do not know him and you probably are wondering why this really matters to you… and it might not. But it matters to me. And I will tie it back together in the end so it matters to you as well; trust me.

He has been in Washington DC for a few years now working for Sirius XM Radio on their golf channel. He is my oldest friend and was the best man at my wedding this past August.

We’ve played basketball together, he let me co-host his weekly radio show when he worked at 1390 The Fan in St. Cloud, we’ve podcasted and we’ve simply just been a good pair of friends.

Since his move to Washington DC to grind through the sports-talk and radio world, it has been difficult to come home often. But he is home for Christmas as he got in on Wednesday.

I stopped by his house and it was like he had never left in the first place. We immediately talked about the Timberwolves roller coaster of a season, the Vikings chances, and started naming random NBA role players from the past 30 years. Malik Rose by the way.

Sports are great for your competitive spirit, but even more importantly, they are great for the social aspect. Sharing memorable wins and devastating losses with friends and family and then proceeding to talk about it every time you see each other create fun (or tragic) memories. I’m not really interested in watching games by myself. I’d much rather watch it with Tim, my family or my friends because it isn’t as much about the sports as it is about the friendships.

So, you might not have your cousin returning from far away, but it is the Christmas season and I’m sure many of you have family that is coming home, maybe for the only time this year. Watch the Vikings game together, talk about how much you dislike Jimmy Butler and make time to spend together because that is What Really Matters.

Merry Christmas!

 

Expectations and Complications for the Vikings

13-3. A Miracle season. A returning “star” running back. The arrival of a star defensive tackle. Resigning core players. The 84 million dollar man coming in like a knight in shining armor. Expectations couldn’t have been higher.

This season has not panned out how most experts or fans thought it would. In August, the words “Vikings” and “Super Bowl” were constantly being uttered in the same breathe and seemingly for good reason. After a 13-3 season that fizzled out quicker than a candle in a hurricane, the Vikings brought back Dalvin Cook, signed DT Sheldon Richardson, and of course signed QB Kirk Cousins. Why wouldn’t the Vikings repeat last year’s magic? The team on paper was simply better.

The NFL is a little more complicated than that. There are few teams that seem to be able to repeat success year after year after year. When you look at those teams, there is usually one key factor that stays steady with those teams. The Patriots have Brady, the Steelers have Roethlisberger, the Colts had Manning, the Packers had Favre. These kind of quarterbacks don’t come around very often and nobody would expect Kirk to be mentioned in the same class as these guys.

Another key factor, for the Vikings specifically, is the offensive line. A quick glance at the advanced statistic analysis site Football Outsiders shows the Vikings offensive line ranked 31st. The last I checked, that is not great. That isn’t even average.

The Vikings have quality players across the board that could be key players on a Super Bowl team. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are in the top 5 for receiver combinations in the league. Dalvin Cook is an explosive and quick runner when given the opportunity. Our defensive line, headlined by Danielle Hunter, has been great most of the season.

But it takes more than good players to have a good team. The defense struggled early because Mike Zimmer was over-complicating things. The offense has been up and down to the point where Zim fired Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo only 13 games into his stint. I really think losing Offensive Line coach Tony Sparano really is a major factor for the lack of performance from the offensive line.

The reality of the NFL is that it really is quite unpredictable. Every year different teams with high expectations fall off the cliff while teams who were supposed to be bad rise to the top. It simply is the nature of the league. It is very hard to win consistently.

Last year, the Vikings were an under the radar team who had the stars simply align for them and they almost took advantage. This year, Minnesota was a Super Bowl favorite who is now clinging to the 6th seed in the playoffs with a 6-6-1 record.

This is also the beauty of the NFL. A win at home against the Dolphins and a win at Detroit might be enough to squeak into the playoffs. Once you are in, really anything can happen. You can win on a 61 yard miracle play or you can get blown out 38-7. Regardless of what happens, enjoy this frustrating, crazy, fun, and unpredictable ride… Because we get to do it all again next year.

 

Lester Prairie Lions welcome Santa, a cuddly lion, and lots of little ones Dec. 2

PHOTO GALLERY – Lester Prairie City Hall was the site of much excitement on Sunday, as children were delighted to see Santa and a big lion while they attended a breakfast there.  Lester Prairie Lions club members served pancakes, eggs, sausage, toast, juice and coffee.  (All proceeds from the breakfast support local Lions’ projects.)

Check out the fun here:

https://photos.herald-journal.com/organize/Lester-Prairie-2018/Lester-Prairie-Lions-Club-and-visitors-see-Santa