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Updated: September 24th, 2011 2:35pm
Zulgad: Fender bender a fitting moment in Twins' season of futility

Zulgad: Fender bender a fitting moment in Twins' season of futility

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by Judd Zulgad

The Minnesota Twins were in the early days of spring training in March when a remark was made to colleague Patrick Reusse on "Saturday Morning SportTalk" that the injury problems plaguing the team gave this a familiar feeling.

The Vikings had reported to training camp seven months earlier coming off a run to the NFC title game with every starter on the roster returning. The question wasn't whether this was a playoff team, but would a Super Bowl berth become a reality?

Then Brett Favre's favorite target from that nearly magical 2009 campaign, Sidney Rice, showed up with a mysterious hip problem and began camp on the physically unable to perform list.

Favre decided he would not return for a 20th season and then changed his mind again. This wavering did not play nearly as well as it had done the previous year and an odd, almost eerie feeling began to cast a pall over the proceedings in Mankato.

In Fort Myers, the most frequent question was how could the Twins finally get past the hated Yankees in the playoffs. Another American League Central title? That was a foregone conclusion in the minds of many who in 2010 had packed Target Field for the first season of outdoor baseball in Minnesota since 1981.

But then Joe Mauer was brought back slowly after having arthroscopic knee surgery; Justin Morneau continued to deal with a concussion issue; Michael Cuddyer was bothered by a wart; and Delmon Young had a swollen toe.

This brought up the comment attempting to compare the 2011 Twins to the 2010 Vikings.

There were many who likely dismissed such talk as the irrational views of a sportswriter and talk-show host looking for fodder and attempting to see things with the cynical perspective that those who cover sports often take.

There was no way things could go as wrong for the Twins as they had for the Vikings. No. Possible. Way.

The Vikings season could have been a comedy if it hadn't been so pathetic watching it unravel. Going from 12-4 and first place in the NFC North to 6-10 and last place was bad enough, but no one could have dreamed up a scenario in which case the coach (Brad Childress) would not only be fired but the roof would literally cave in on the franchise.

Seven months post that Saturday morning comment on 1500 ESPN, the Twins shouldn't only be ecstatic that they now call Target Field home, they also should be glad it doesn't have a roof on it.

The Twins did not make the mistake of going out and getting a poisonous personality this season like the Vikings did in obtaining Randy Moss, and manager Ron Gardenhire remains employed with no inkling that his job is in any trouble.

But those feats can only be seen as small victories when the 2011 Twins are now compared to the 2010 Vikings. Otherwise, this baseball season has felt about as far off the tracks as last football season.

And once again it would be almost comical if it weren't so darn pathetic.

The one place where the Twins did not come close to the Vikings when it came to putting together a season that resembled a tragic comedy was the collapse of the Dome roof under the weight of a 17-inch snowstorm last December.

There was just no way for the Twins to equal that one, right?


Following the Twins' victory over Seattle on Thursday - a game that was followed with an inexplicable celebration because it ended an 11-game losing streak - teammates Denard Span and Danny Valencia jumped in their cars and headed to the airport for a trip to Cleveland.

Span followed Valencia's car, which was being driven by the third baseman's fiancée. They cruised down Interstate 35 and then merged onto Hwy. 62.

Span told reporters he was going no more than 10 miles per hour when Valencia's fiancée slowed because of traffic. Span slammed into the back of Valencia's car. Both players were held out of the lineup Friday because of whiplash.

Span had just returned to the lineup Thursday after lengthy absences because of a concussion and then migraine symptoms.

For that reason this really shouldn't have been a laughing matter - although both were back in the lineup Saturday in Cleveland -- but accounts from the Twins clubhouse made it clear that even players couldn't help but chuckle about what happened.

The Twins were swept in a split doubleheader on Saturday giving them 98 losses with four games remaining. Reaching 100 defeats for the second time in franchise history is looking like a sure thing and would be fitting for this first to worst bunch.

But as far as the over-the-top moment that will serve as the perfect encapsulation of the 2011 Twins we now have it thanks to Span and his inability to hit the brakes. 

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd