There's something so enjoyable about watching the Minnesota Twins play great baseball and make the playoffs with a record comparable to the Fort Knox Yankees.
It's the lunch-bucket crew rubbing shoulders with the snooty millionaires on Park Avenue.
The Twins embody what baseball should be -- a sport where any team can build through the draft and trades and become a contender.
They are the antithesis of the Yankees, a franchise which simply buys whoever it wants and fields a lineup of all-stars year after year.
When they open the playoffs next week -- quite possibly against those very Yankees - the Twins will trot out an immensely talented lineup which includes players that came through their own system such as centre-fielder extraordinaire Torii Hunter, Canadian MVP candidate Justin Morneau, soon-to-be-crowned batting champion Joe Mauer, Cy Young cinch Johan Santana and emerging stud Michael Cuddyer.
All of the above, except Santana, were drafted by the Twins and Santana was stolen from the Florida Marlins in a minor-league transaction.
This is the fourth time in five years that the Twins have made the playoffs, a testament to the work of GM Tom Kelly and manager Ron Gardenhire, who are succeeding with the 19th highest payroll in baseball ($63 million). Unfortunately, they have won only one playoff series during that time and lost to the dreaded Yankees twice.
Money often talks loudest at playoff time and the Yankees have $200 million reasons to be successful, but it would sure be nice to see the Twins stick it to them -- just this once.
RYDER PRIDE: It would appear the Americans misunderstood the notion of gaining a half at the Ryder Cup. Rather than earning a tie in a match, they thought it meant get half as many points as your opponent in the tournament. Well done boys ... Did you know that according to the CFL, there is no such thing as the playoffs any more. In all press releases these days, the playoffs are referred to as the Scotiabank Championships. Of course, that title is not likely to see the light of day in these pages again. You can bank on it ... We'll give Terrell Owens credit. Who else could be in the hospital for a reported suicide attempt in the morning and be conducting his own news conference in the afternoon? Besides, did anybody really believe a guy with that big an ego would rid the world of his effervescent personality? It's much harder to make headlines when you're dead ... There are 37 Winnipeggers in the Western Hockey League and nearly twice that many Manitobans. Almost every other city in Western Canada with a population of more than 30,000 has a WHL team. It would appear that Winnipeg is missing out, especially when all our young hockey players have to travel afar just to play at the highest level.
RIGHT ON: Mike Tyson says he's useless to society and he can't understand why anyone would pay to watch him box. For the first time in his life, I think Iron Mike might be in touch with reality ... B.C. Lions coach Wally Buono made an indefensible, idiotic call when he had Paul McCallum punt on first down in overtime last weekend against the Roughriders. Not only did they not get the winning single point, McCallum kicked it right down the middle and barely got the ball halfway through the end zone -- and the Riders won the game. The good news is, Saskatchewan fans actually went to McCallum's old house in Regina after the game and shoveled crap off his lawn ... For the sixth time this year, a member of the Cincinnati Bengals was arrested this week. Local prison officials are reportedly getting very worried about their upcoming re-enactment of The Longest Yard ... OK, raise your hands. How many of you thought you'd ever spend a second of your life discussing Tie Domi's love life? We heard he was quitting hockey to appear on television, but we never knew it would be on Entertainment Tonight.
QUICK HITS: Let's start off with Cam Hutchinson of the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, with his take on New Orleans Saints rookie Reggie Bush getting his own line of cologne: "It smells like money." ... Bernie Lincicome of Denver's Rocky Mountain News on police saying they suspect San Diego Chargers linebacker Steve Foley was on steroids when they shot him: "Hey, if you went around shooting every football player who is on steroids, baseball would still be the national pastime." ... Reggie Hayes of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel on the Detroit Tigers being a bit rusty with their celebrating after clinching a playoff spot for the first time in 19 years: "They doused each other with New Coke." ... David Whitley of the Orlando Sentinel, on the circus surrounding Terrell Owens and his reported suicide attempt: "You'd have thought Lady Di had re-entered the Paris tunnel with Elvis stashed in the trunk. Speculation didn't just run wild; it sprinted across our continent." ... Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle with a silver lining for Oakland Raiders fans in wake of their 28-6 loss to the Ravens: "The Raiders completed 93% (53 for 57) of their centre snaps." ... From Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post: "Happy 42nd birthday to Rafael Palmeiro. What to get for the man who has everything? A ticket to see the Hall of Fame, because he's going to need one." ... David Thomas of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, on the Texas Department of Transportation selling licence plates featuring the Rangers logo: "The plates expire every September." ... From Greg Cote of the Miami Herald: "Andre Agassi's retirement at the U.S. Open. Darren Clarke's personal triumph at the Ryder Cup. The Saints return to New Orleans. Geez, when did it become that you can't watch sports without a box of Kleenex?" ... Seattle Times reader Bill Littlejohn on the stabbing case involving punters and Northern Colorado University: "I wonder if the DA will seek hang time." ... Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting quarterback being out of the lineup after having his spleen removed: "The (Bucs) maintain that Chris Simms may return this season. Is that the good news or the bad news?" ... Ostler on Mike Tyson's public workouts at the Aladdin Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas: "It doesn't cost you an arm and a leg to get in. Maybe, if you get too close, part of an ear." ... Finally, comedian Argus Hamilton, on the White House saying the New Orleans Saints' return to the Superdome is an indication of how football can help reunite a devastated city: "This means Baghdad will have an NFL team before Los Angeles does."