You can now drink beer at TCF Bank Stadium

Considering the Gophers’ ongoing streak of futility, how likely are you to go to a Minnesota football game at TCF Bank Stadium?

I mean, this is a team that lost to New Mexico State last fall. At home. It was a loss that first-year coach Jerry Kill responded to by collapsing into a fit of seizures on the sideline. Clearly, things bottomed out in 2011 as the team transitioned from blustery used car salesman Tim Brewster to the much more workmanlike Kill, who has brought an air of steely confidence to the down-on-its-luck program.

Still, attendance in 2011 was sparse. Losing has a tendency to do that. But we wonder if this won’t change things just a bit.

Let’s face it: College kids drink. College football fans drink. However, in TCF’s infancy, fans had to consume those suds in various parking lots while tailgating. And nothing kills the positive vibes that spew forth from quality tailgating like entering a half-full, lifeless stadium only to watch the local team get pounded by 40.

Worst people ever?

The NFL draft is crawling through the second and third rounds, but there is something of greater significance that deserves your attention — proper etiquette for catching a foul ball with a baseball-crazy youngster nearby.

This is not the proper approach.

(Editor’s note: some racy language there.)

Not only does the couple refuse to part with a meaningless baseball, they appear to be taunting the traumatized infant with it.

Vikings double up their first-round fun

We don’t wanna brag or anything, but … well, actually we kind of do wanna brag after predicting the Vikings would slide back into the first round following their Matt Kalil selection.

The Vikings did indeed jockey their way to a second first-round pick, which they wisely used on Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith.

Rick Spielman and his entire staff of cohorts have to feel good about filling two positions of need with a pair of standouts. Now, they’ll really have to earn their money in rounds 2-7 over the weekend. That’s where the challenge comes — everybody knows the blue-chippers, but the teams that sift through the second- and third-day garbage while landing productive players are the ones that avoid prolonged losing.

Exhibit A (and this is painful to write): the Green Bay Packers.

Vikings surprise no one, draft Kalil

If you’re reading this, then you already know:

The Vikings drafted USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil with the fourth pick. It was almost as surprising as the Colts taking Andrew Luck first overall and the Redskins hitching their star to Robert Griffin III.

Surrounded by family and friends, Matt Kalil shows off his new jersey after being drafted by the Vikes on Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall in New York. (Jason DeCrow / Associated Press)

I do wonder if Kalil is secretly happy that his professional team, in the not-too-distant future, could very well be playing its home games in the same state (California, or, as the kids like to say, “Cali”) in which he played college ball.

We will see.

Also, random prediction: The Vikings will end up with a second first-round selection tonight. They have too many picks not to shake things up a little bit, and Rick Spielman has shown an affinity for moving up to take guys he really likes.

Here’s proof that Jamie Moyer is old

From the department of wacky numbers: Jamie Moyer’s top speed when he became the oldest pitcher to win a MLB game earlier this month was 78.

From the Seattle Times:

Jamie Moyer’s fastball is slow by big-league standards, but it’s not Joe Blow slow.

The Class A Fort Myers (Fla.) Miracle offered any fan who could throw faster than 78 mph — the 49-year-old Moyer’s top speed when he became the oldest pitcher to win a big-league game — a free ticket to a Miracle game.

Alas, about 85 took the challenge — and the top speed was 76.

The elder statesman has pitched to 8 percent of all the hitters in major league history. Even more interesting, however, is the fact that Moyer won his first game the same week that “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” came out in theaters. Also, Moyer’s current team, the Colorado Rockies, didn’t even exist when he broke into the bigs.

Good stuff.

NFL draft is here — FINALLY

FINALLY, the NFL draft has arrived.

We are not one of those rabid, jersey-wearing, party-going NFL fans that lose their minds for the draft. Instead, the excitement is over the fact that we no longer have to digest mock drafts, lie-laced chatter from team executives and a whole bunch of guessing. The draft is exciting in the sense that teams like the Vikings have a chance to retool their rosters, thereby providing their fans some hope heading into a new season. But all the hyperbole becomes a bit too much of a brain drain. Hence our joy for draft day.

That being said, we’ll provide a few sporadic thoughts throughout the night regarding the Vikings, who have traded their No. 3 pick for the Cleveland Browns’ fourth pick. Presumably, the Vikes still will get their guy (Kalil, Claiborne or Blackmon) while attaining Cleveland’s fourth-, fifth- and seventh-round choices.

Good start for the purple, though we’re a bit perplexed as to why Cleveland, which appears to be enamored with Alabama running back Trent Richardson, would give up so much to get in front of the Vikings, who had no intentions of drafting a running back. The only logical explanation is that the Vikings had convinced Cleveland that other teams were interested in trading for that third pick, and the Browns didn’t want to miss out on a chance to grab a playmaking runner.

Wolves crawling toward finish line

With the Twins struggling out of the gate and the Vikings all but threatening to unleash a fleet of U-Hauls on the Metrodome, it’s been easy to overlook the other pilfering remnants of this state’s foundering sports landscape. For the Timberwolves, that hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing.

The Wolves are limping toward the finish line. Heck, “limping” might be a generous description. What they’re doing is more akin to tumbling, stumbling or bumbling. In any right, the Wolves’ season is down to a single game, and while there were some colossal strides made — in March the team was hovering around .500 while jockeying for playoff position — this thing’s not ending well.

Following Sunday night’s come-from-ahead loss to Golden State in which Rick Adelman’s club blew a 21-point lead, J.J. Barea openly questioned his teammates’ focus and desire. From the Associated Press:

“We’ve got problems here,” said Barea. “We’ve got a lot of guys that don’t care. … We’re just going to keep getting Ls until we get players here that care, that care about winning, care about the team and care about the fans.”

Michael Beasley — who’s been the subject of that kind of criticism in the past — seemingly took umbrage with Barea’s harsh words.

“Until you point those guys out one by one, it doesn’t really matter,” Beasley said. “That was a collective loss.”

Losing has a way of putting everyone on edge. Thus, this appears to be a typical case of frustration boiling over. Still, it doesn’t bode well for a young team trying to shake years of losing and irrelevance. And if that ugly little episode wasn’t enough, Adelman seemed to express concern over rookie Derrick Williams’ effort in a Minneapolis Star Tribune story.

“He has really struggled with his shot. He has really struggled with energy on the court,” Adelman told the Star Tribune. “The inconsistency has really been something that has bothered us all year long with a lot of guys. He’s got to figure out how to get himself going in the game, and a lot of times that’s just effort, going to the boards, not worrying about your shot, being aggressive. It’s hard to put your finger on why he has tailed off.”

Rookies struggling is nothing new, of course, but the part of that quote that bothered us was: “He has really struggled with energy on the court.”

That’s an issue, especially for a young pup trying to play his way into the lineup.

As the Wolves wrap up this shortened season and look ahead to the fall, we hope some of these issues get ironed out. If that happens, there’s no reason the momentum the team had going through mid-March can’t carry over to 2012-13.

 

Vikings’ stadium push revived

The Vikings’ stadium push is gaining momentum, some four days after it looked to be dead in the water.

From Don Davis, the capitol correspondent for Forum Communications Co.

ST. PAUL — A Vikings stadium construction effort has fallen short for years, but a Friday meeting among NFL officials and Minnesota leaders produced the most progress so far.

The plan that passed a Senate committee Friday night 8-6 faces tough votes in other committees. And the House version must be resurrected and face further committee debates of its own.

Despite what even supporters predict to be a difficult future, they said Friday could be a turning point.

A stadium “is very close to the goal line,” Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II, head of the NFL stadium committee, said after meeting with state leaders.

House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, told a radio audience that he expects the stadium to receive a full House debate, even though a committee defeated it Monday night.

Neither Zellers nor Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, predicted a stadium package eventually will pass, but the mood inside the Capitol changed in recent days to become more optimistic a stadium is possible.

Despite the ugly rhetoric from this past week and the bill’s apparent demise, it seems implausible that Senate and House members would let the Vikings leave Minnesota. Some way, somehow, this baby’s gonna get done. At least that’s what we want to believe.

Ready, set, vote

We’ve reached the second week of the baseball season — so we’re about 15 games into a 162-game season — and you know what that means.

All-Star ballots are now available!

For the Twins, a couple oddities:

• Ben Revere is on the ballot, even though Paul Revere’s nephew is no longer on the 25-man major league roster but rather at Triple A Rochester.
• Justin Morneau also made the cut — as a designated hitter.
• Chris Parmelee is the Twins’ representative at first base.
• Ryan Doumit is nowhere to be found, presumably because he doesn’t have a regular position. Still, cut a guy some slack, right?

If we had to guess — and doing so this ridiculously early in the season is pure foolishness — we’d put our money on a lone Twin participating in the Midsummer Classic. That Twin goes by the name of Joe Mauer. Let’s face it, baseball’s All-Star Game has become little more than a popularity contest, which kind of dooms the red-hot Josh Willingham.

Vikings have three of the 10 worst 2012 games

In light of NFL schedules being released this week, cbssports.com takes a look at the 10 worst games of 2012. You will be surprised — though you probably shouldn’t be — that three of those eyesores include the Vikings. Meaning the Vikes’ potential last season in Minnesota will feature 30 percent of the least appealing games. They sure know how to go out with a bang.

Here are the three, along with writer Will Brinson’s comments for each:

Jaguars at Vikings, Week 1, September 9
Vikes-Jags already had “overdrafted second-year quarterback stinkbomb” written all over it in the first place, and even though it could turn into a sneaky shootout depending on the secondary of each squad, it’s hard to imagine that Adrian Peterson will be at full form to try and face 2011 rushing leader Maurice Jones-Drew … provided he hasn’t held out for a new deal.

Buccaneers at Vikings, October 25 (Thursday)
Every single team has to get a Thursday game as I understand it, so maybe it wasn’t so bad of the NFL to stick these two stinkers together for one game.

Seahawks vs. Vikings, Week 9, November 4
I’m sorry, but whenever the primary storyline that you could drum up for a game involves the words “Tarvaris Jackson Bowl,” you’ve probably run into a relatively unexciting matchup.

We’re not saying that we agree with those thoughts. We’re also not saying we disagree.