John Shipley / St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL — Even in a milieu that turns propriety on its head every day, Jimmy Butler's salvo to the Timberwolves this week stands tall in the pantheon of petulant hubris that has come to define American professional sports. The kids have a word for such a move; it can't be printed here. Believe me, I tried. Not only did the veteran guard decide to ruin the Timberwolves' season six days before training camp starts, he made head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau fly all the way to California to get the news.
The Minnesota Wild's 2018-19 season officially started on Friday with the first day of training camp. The indifference is palpable. Once a feel-good, second chance for a great hockey market, Minnesota's NHL team has settled into a maddening inadequacy. It would be easier if they were lousy, but the Wild keep chugging along at their B-minus pace, slightly and painfully above average — never good enough to win in the playoffs, never bad enough to rebuild through the draft.
MINNEAPOLIS — Miguel Sano is determined to play again this season, and optimistic he will. "A hundred percent," he said. "I want to finish strong. I've had a struggling year (and) I want to finish strong." The Twins third baseman has been limited to 70 major-league games this season, spending nearly a month on the disabled list because of a hamstring injury, and nearly six weeks on a comprehensive rehab assignment in Fort Myers, Fla., designed to strengthen his core and lower body.
MINNEAPOLIS—The Minnesota Twins finally beat the New York Yankees this week, twice in a row to win a three-game series against their arch nemesis at Target Field, and Joe Mauer was right in the middle of it. Mauer went a combined 4 for 8 with two runs scored and four RBIs in 10-5 and 3-1 victories, his grand slam on Tuesday — a 419-foot shot to dead center — proving he still has much to give after 15 major league seasons. As he took a rare curtain call after Tuesday's blast, many had to wonder, "How do you give that up?"
MINNEAPOLIS — Robbie Grossman was drafted by Pittsburgh and started his major league career with Houston, but the switch-hitting outfielder has steadily become a mainstay for the Twins. "It's funny how this game works," Grossman said. Grossman, 28, played his 111th game of the season on Tuesday, Sept. 11, against the Yankees at Target Field and is on pace to surpass the career-high 119 games he played last season, his second in Minnesota. Under team control through 2020, he has made his presence not only felt in Minnesota, but vital.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins were relieved last week when an awkward slide by Miguel Sano looked worse that it was, but the third baseman hasn't been available since being injured on Sept. 4 and wasn't on the field for pregame activities Monday, Sept. 10, as Minnesota prepared to start a three-game series against the New York Yankees at Target Field. "Progress is slow," manager Paul Molitor said.
ST. PAUL — For most of this offseason, it seemed the wind was at the Vikings' backs; that after advancing to the NFC Championship Game with a backup quarterback and the NFL's top-ranked defense, the best was yet to come. After signing free-agent quarterback Kirk Cousins in March, it was Super Bowl or bust. But the wind is rarely, if ever, at a team's back in the NFL, and success in a previous season is often irrelevant. "I've always got the wind in my face," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. "I'm always saying, 'Couple extra clubs.'"
MINNEAPOLIS — There has been some gnashing of teeth over the Twins' decision not to recall Byron Buxton for the tail end of the season. At first glance, the decision was a little shocking. Buxton is arguably baseball's best defensive outfielder and, still only 24, expected to be a cornerstone of the franchise for years to come.
ST. PAUL — Vikings receiver Cayleb Jones was charged with felony theft and misdemeanor domestic assault in Dakota County court on Thursday, Aug. 30, while his teammates were in Tennessee preparing for their last preseason game of the season. Jones, 25, was arrested at an Eagan hotel Wednesday and made his first court appearance Thursday. According to a Dakota County Court release, he was charged with theft by temporary control, a felony; interference with an emergency call, a gross misdemeanor; and domestic assault.
MINNEAPOLIS — Asked about new first baseman Tyler Austin before Sunday afternoon's game against the Oakland A's, Paul Molitor answered, "Intriguing — high-end power." The Twins manager is even more intrigued now. Austin hit two home runs, including a tape-measure shot to dead center, in a 6-2 loss Aug. 26 to the hard-charging A's, who are trying to overtake defending World Series champion Houston in the American League West.