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Reverse the Hersch

Feb. 4, 2008

by Matt Kane

Minnesota: The land of 10,000 lakes. It’s a good slogan for our state. It brings to mind thoughts of the great outdoors and the peacefulness of a lake-shore lifestyle.

Last week, I thought of another slogan that could be used to describe our state. “Minnesota: The land where superstar athletes once played.”

It might be a struggle to fit this slogan on a license plate, but what’s the difference? Those stud athletes, always end up replacing them with the plates from New York, Massachusetts, and California, anyway.

We all knew Johan Santana was going to be traded sooner or later, so we can’t really be shocked that he will wear a lighter shade of blue pinstripes in New York this summer. It’s just getting old.

How many times is it going to happen that Minnesota’s professional sports teams groom young players into veteran superstars and then sell them to the highest bidder?

It happened to Rod Carew, Randy Moss, Kevin Garnett, and now, Santana.

Didn’t I just write a story like this not too long ago? Oh, yeah, that was about the Kevin Garnett trade.

The Santana deal seems very much like the Garnett trade. Both were very high-priced players that were, or soon would be eating up a lot of salary. They both got dealt for little-known players.

I don’t fault the Twins or Timberwolves for cutting costs by getting rid of Santana and Garnett, but what is the deal with getting little in return for two players who were two of the best at their games?

Al Jefferson has turned into a good player for the Timberwolves, but the others Minnesota got in return for Garnett are duds.

If basketball had a true minor league system like baseball, the other players the Timberwolves got from the Celtics would probably be playing in triple A.

It’s fine that the Twins got minor leaguers from the Mets, I just wish they would have gotten an Al Jefferson. Maybe they have, though. Maybe outfielder Carlos Gomez can win a spot in the outfield this season, and become a productive player for the Twins.

Unlike basketball, instant results from Gomez cannot be expected. He may start off in the minor leagues, and we may not consistently see him in the major league clubhouse for several years. That’s what makes what the Twins got in return for Santana so hard to take. Twins fans want someone guaranteed to make the opening day roster, and possibly take over for the departed Torii Hunter in center field. Instead, we got some more hopefuls. The Twins also got pitchers Phil Humber, Deolis Guerra, and Kevin Mulvey.

The Twins always seem to be building for the future. When teams do that, they usually don’t win now. We want the Twins to win now.

Ticket prices keep increasing, while the product quality seems to decrease.

Talking about Santana, I already talked about basketball, so here is my football take.

I apologize to all Vikings fans who have been alive for the past two decades, but remember the infamous Herschel Walker trade?

The Vikings got Walker, one of the best running backs in the game (when he played for Dallas) from the Cowboys, and Dallas got some fringe players and draft picks.

Well, the story goes that those draft picks ultimately turned into Emmitt Smith (you may have heard of him), Russel Maryland, Kevin Smith, Darren Woodson, and Clayton Holmes. And, oh yeah, the Cowboys went on to win three Super Bowls in the 1990s.

So what does Herschel Walker have to do with Johan Santana?

I’m thinking maybe the Santana trade will be the reversal of the Walker trade. The Twins will play the part of the championship-winning Cowboys, while the Mets cry in their beer after a half-decade of mediocre baseball.

I just thought of another state motto: “Reverse the Hersch.”

Actually, that might make for a better bumper sticker. Stick it right next to that other popular bumper sticker, oh, what does it say, “It happens” (or something like that).