Let’s bury Pohlad under Target Field

January 12, 2009

by Stephen Wiblemo

If you keep up with the Minnesota sports scene, you may have heard that Twins owner Carl Pohlad died Monday, of natural causes, at the ripe age of 93.

The reaction of most people in the blogosphere and online was one of respect and thoughtfulness for the family.

Still, even in the days after his death, there are people happy to see the old man go, citing all of their bitter resentments toward how he has run the Twins since purchasing them in 1984 from the previous owner, Calvin Griffith.

It’s true, Pohlad did a lot to make Twins fans upset – and I was among them for many years.

The thing that angered most people was his unwillingness to spend money to keep, or attract talent.

The Twins are considered a small-market team because of how much is spent on its players, but the reality is that Pohlad’s riches far exceed many of baseball’s biggest owners.

Forbes magazine had him listed as the 107th richest American with an estimated net worth of 2.6 billion.

To put that into perspective, Donald Trump is listed as the 94th richest person, and Ted Turner is the 189th richest person of Forbes’ list of the 400 richest Americans.

But George Steinbrenner, the aging owner of the New York Yankees who is well known for his liberal spending when it comes to paying for big-name talent, doesn’t even rank on the list.

The most recent example of Pohlad’s cheapness was last season when the Twins bid farewell to stars Torii Hunter and Johan Santana.

Twins fans were understandably upset to watch two of the biggest names on the club walk away, or be traded away for virtually nothing in return.

Pohlad’s miserliness definitely soured his image with Twins fans, but then of course, there was that time in 2001 when the Twins faced contraction.

Bud Selig, the commissioner of baseball, asked for volunteers, and Pohlad’s hand went up.

Pohlad often threatened to sell, relocate, or otherwise dissolve the franchise, but he never did.

Part of this was out of his own frustration as he tried for over a decade to get state legislatures to put up money for a new baseball park.

His efforts finally paid off in 2006, and the Twins’ new outdoor park, Target Field, is scheduled to open for the 2010 season.

It is kind of ironic that Pohlad will never get to see the stadium he fought to have built, but I think it will go down as a big part of his legacy.

Much like pharaohs of ancient Egypt were remembered in part because of the pyramids built for them, Pohlad will be remembered for getting the Twins a new park.

Even if you are a critic of the Twins’ new stadium, it does mean that the Twins won’t be getting moved or contracted anytime soon, and few people can be upset about that.

So, even though much of Pohlad’s legacy as the Twins’ owner will be remembered as negative, there are a couple big positives that he has left behind for Twins fans, and the biggest is guaranteeing many more years of Minnesota Twins baseball.

Oh, and let’s not forget about 1987 and 1991, the only professional championships a Minnesota franchise has ever won. Those were positives too.

NFL pick-a-winner playoffs, round two

It was a tough round in the first week of the NFL pick-a-winner playoffs for the pickers.

All six pickers missed in the Colts vs. Chargers game, and the Cardinals vs. Falcons game. They made up for it in the Dolphins vs. Ravens game, however.

The difference-maker in the first round of picks was the Vikings vs. Eagles game, in which pickers Matt Kane and Josef Haas went against the home-state team and took a one-point lead over the other four pickers.

They may have taken a small lead by picking against the Vikings, but hopefully their consciences kept them awake Sunday night.

While several individuals’ brackets took big hits, including Aaron and Cullen Schultz who picked the Colts to win the Super Bowl, there are still several opportunities for the pickers to get back points – and remember, the point values double each new round, so anything can happen.

Games in the divisional playoffs are worth two points.