Posted at 9:01 AM on September 6, 2007
by David Zingler
MINNEAPOLIS -- There has been a lot of talk lately about Joe Mauer switching positions, but up until now, there had been little indication he had been listening. This morning however, the Vikings held press conference announcing their signing of the Twins catcher as their new quarterback.
"Joe was the National Prep Player of the Year in football his senior season at Cretin Derham Hall and turned down a scholarship to Florida State," Vikings owner Zygi Wilf explained. "He's a tremendous athlete who has the mechanics and intangibles to be a superstar in our league."
Although Mauer will not play for the Twins again this season because of a hamstring injury, he will remain with the team until the season finale on September 30 before reporting to the Vikings.
"The plan is to bring Joe along slowly," head coach Brad Childress said. "He'll start out as the third stringer and compete to move up from there. Although with my maddeningly simple offensive scheme and our lack of an NFL caliber QB, it shouldn't take Joe long to get in there."
Mauer, who flew to Chicago with the Twins following yesterday's loss to Cleveland, seemed excited, in his own way; "I grew up following the Vikings and look forward to tossing the pigskin around the Metrodome," the 24-year-old commented. "I have a lot to learn and can't wait to start working with Coach Childress."
The mood of his "other team", the Twins, was far less festive. While no one would go on record, several players privately voiced their discontent. "He tweaks his hammy and can't play for weeks and now he thinks he can hack the NFL - please!!," said a prominent Twin. "They better tell Morneau to not even think about trying hockey."
The Twins organization meanwhile, announced this statement: "While Joe's actions are concerning to us, we wish him the best of luck in his endeavors with the Vikings and are confident he will succeed. Besides, no matter what, we got our new stadium - jealous Vikings?"
Posted at 9:49 PM on September 6, 2007
by Chris Dall
There've been a number of stories this season that have a left a bad taste in baseball fans' mouths, from the death of St. Louis Cardinal pitcher Josh Hancock to the Barry Bonds saga to the uninspired play of the hometown nine, but if there's one story that makes you feel good about baseball, it's the story of Rick Ankiel.
Ankiel hit 2 home runs and drove in 7 runs today in the Cardinals' 16-4 romp over the Pittsburgh Pirates, and is now hitting .358 with 9 home runs and 29 RBI since being called up on August 9th. Those are pretty good numbers, and they're even better when you think about the path that he's traveled.
Ankiel has been better known for much of his career as a pitcher who, after going 11-7 with a 3.50 ERA in 2000, completely lost his ability to find the strike zone. Ankiel's downfall as a pitcher began in the 2000 NLDS against Atlanta, when he threw 5 wild pitches in one inning, and continued in that year's NLCS against the Mets, when he was removed after 20 pitches. Whether it was due to his mechanics or his head, Ankiel went from being an ace in the making to nearly being out of the game.
After Tommy John surgery and a short, unsuccessful stint as a reliver, Ankiel gave up trying to make it back as a pitcher after the 2004 season and switched to the outfield. Now, after putting up some pretty good numbers in Triple A, he's helping the Cardinals with his bat in their fight to win the dreadful NL Central.
Of course, Ankiel's success with the bat may very well be short-term, and he could end up being just another journeyman major leaguer. But even if that is the case, at least he's provided baseball fans with another reason to love the game.