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Catbird Seat: The Grab Bag

With the onset of summer, it's time to take a dip into this week's Catbird

Seat Grab Bag.

The Brett Favre story is like a bad check. It never seems to go away.

The revelation that he has indeed undergone surgery on his ailing throwing

arm hit the Twin Cities papers over the weekend and became front-page news.

The story simply will not go away.

Time was when a Viking fan would get upset due to the never ending rumors

about whether Favre was retired or not. Now more and more Viking fans are

getting upset because of the persistence of rumors that Green Bay's best

quarterback since Bart Starr is coming 'here.'

I have been of the opinion that if Favre feels he can still play, he's going

to try to do it. He'll turn 40 years of age on Oct. 10 and if there is

anything we've learned about him over the last few years it's that the one

thing that hasn't aged much about the quarterback is his ego.

That comes as nothing new to fans. Now, it comes as nothing new to fans on

both sides of the border. Some Viking fans tried to turn a blind eye to the

situation, but now they can't avoid it. Until a decision is made, Favre

will dominate the summer.

Whether he does or doesn't come out of retirement, I think the vast majority

of Viking fans just want a decision made that is going to stick. The

existing quarterbacks don't need to play the waiting game and the offense to

be used for the coming season ought to depend, at least in part, on who the

quarterback will be.

I feel especially bad for new guy Sage Rosenfels. He's the one who was

supposed to be the answer at the quarterback position. Admittedly in recent

years the quarterback position has been trouble, but he does deserve his

shot. We'll see how long it takes for him to get it.

# # #

Watching the Twins these days has been a blink-or-you'll-miss-it experience

whenever Joe Mauer has been at the plate.

The catcher's recent spectacular emergence into arguably the best all-around

player in baseball merely underscores his value. His fantastic month of May

was simply compelling to watch. Twins fans didn't want to miss an at-bat

because we didn't know what we might miss.

Already Mauer has hit more home runs than he did all last season, with the

obvious benefit to the Twins. However, their ongoing sluggish play is

starting to become a cause for concern.

When Joe Crede and Michael Cuddyer are able to play, the Twins are a much

more dangerous team with four legitimate power threats - Crede, Mauer,

Cuddyer, Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel. When the Twins can score with one

hit instead of three, they're a more dangerous team.

Yet there's a piece missing. What was once the team's strength - starting

pitching - has faltered. The missing link is there to be fixed, and when it

is, the weakness of the American League Central as a whole means it's still

a very winnable division.

Mauer is playing about as well as a baseball player can over an extended

period of time. It would be a shame if all that excellence were to go to


# # #

I want to make a comment this week about one of the region's best high

school coaches.

The Duluth News Tribune story over the weekend on Hermantown softball coach

Tom Bang is remarkable. For those who didn't see the story, he has held off

on having open-heart surgery while guiding the Hawks to a state softball


I've always known Bang to be a no-nonsense coach who cares deeply for the

growth of his players and has a tremendous inner drive to see them succeed

on and off the field. In that sense he is similar to a lot of high school

coaches in the region - great, committed people who teach their players to

play the game for the right reasons.

Yet Bang's quiet competence has resulted in ongoing success on a scale

rarely seen in regional, or even state, competition. He's got it right. And

now it's time for Tom to take care of himself.

Waiting for heart surgery is perhaps the greatest personal sacrifice I've

come across in 20 years of watching Northland high school sports. Here's

wishing Tom Bang a speedy recovery and a quick return to our fields of play.