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If you can't beat 'em, spend

June 24, 2010 - Per Peterson
The Minnesota Wild know going into the upcoming season they need more scoring. They’ve always needed more scoring. So this week they went out and made a deal. They acquired Brad Staubitz. Stau-bitz. Ohhhh-K. Staubitz had six points last year with San Jose. He also had 110 penalty minutes. Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher calls the 6-foot-1, 210-pound native of Edmonton, Alberta, a physical player who will add grit to the team. Grit, THAT’S what the Wild needed, GRIT. Forget scoring, they needed GRIT. The Wild have failed in the past few years to land a top-notch scorer and will more than likely fail again this offseason thanks to a cheapskate front office, meaning they will have to fight and scratch just to stay out of the basement of their division. The only difference between them and the Twins is that the Wild actually play in a good division. Although the American League Central is looking better now than it did two weeks ago, it’s still a weak division and the Twins can win it with their current lineup. The front office knows as much. That’s the problem. What does that mean? It means they won’t pursue a top-notch starting pitcher to put them over the top and help them better compete against the New Yorks and Tampa Bays and Bostons of the baseball world. The Vikings were on the cusp of going to the NFL championship game a year ago because they have owners who are willing to take a gamble on high-priced free agents. They’re willing to spend big bucks. The Twins and Wild never will. The Wild are the Twins on ice. Save one year, the Timberwolves can be thrown into that category as well. The Twins and Wild don’t have any excuses, either. The Wild allegedly sell out every game, and the Twins obviously are doing pretty well at the gate with their new ballpark. If there is any time the Twins can and should spend money on a rent-a-pitcher, it’s this year. If they don’t, they’re facing another first-round series sweep in the playoffs. If they make it that far. The Tigers have a better offense than the Twins and are right on their heels, and the White Sox have a better rotation and just completed an 8-1 road trip to turn a two-team race into a three-team marathon. It will make for some damn good drama this summer, but I like the Tigers’ or White Sox’s chances against the beasts from the East better than the Twins’. Being a sports fan in Minnesota has gotten more frustrating every year. At least the Vikings’ front office realizes that these days it takes money to win championships. For those of you who are waiting for the 1987 or 1991 Twins to reinvent themselves, don’t hold your breath. Those storybook-type seasons just don’t happen anymore. Those championships were great stories, but low payroll teams like those the Twins teams built decades ago can't cut it any longer. Yes, the Twins organization does things the right way — they play the game the way it was meant to be played, they develop their minor league talent. And they have long been known as having one of the best farm systems in the Majors. They run a do-more-with-less business and many who are reading this can probably relate to what that's all about. The difference, however, is while YOU are hoping to have some money left in the checkbook at the end of the month, THEY are professional athletes who make millions, whose job it is to win titles and entertain — not one or the other, both. Accomplish the former and the latter will take care of itself. The Twins need to get with the pack when it comes to spending money, because we live in a win-now era where, because of free agency, windows for success don't stay open for too long. Plus, eventually, the shine of a new stadium will fade and these sell-outs will go away if they don't jump through that window. Teams in this era don’t win titles, they buy them. And as much as hurts to say, that’s what Minnesota teams will have to do to win one of their own. The Vikings needed a quarterback before last season, so they bought one. And now everyone is waiting for Brett Favre to make his decision on whether or not he'll play to make their predictions on how the team will do this year. It’s as if it doesn’t matter how hard they work or how many bounces go their way throughout the season. Their success hinges on what a 41-year-old QB decides to do: Play or stay away. Favre is an investment, an expensive pawn, like so many other decorated pro athletes become toward the end of their careers, available to any team at the right price.


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