Jake Odorizzi did a good thing and the right thing late Saturday when, after throwing 5⅔ innings of shutout baseball in a very important 4-1 Twins win over Cleveland, he channeled Aaron Rodgers and essentially told Minnesota fans to R-E-L-A-X.
The biggest takeaway was Odorizzi trying to remind fans that while they carry the emotional baggage and wear the scars of every bad thing that has happened in local sports history, most of the guys on the Twins, well, aren’t from around here.
“We’re not Minnesota people that have gone through [tough times]. We’re here to win, and we’re a pretty darn good team so far this year,” Odorizzi said. “It’s easy to find panic. But there’s no panic in here.”
Less than 24 hours later, of course, the Twins had rallied in dramatic fashion and pushed themselves to the brink of another key win over Cleveland … only to send recently calmed fans back into a panic with a crushing defeat and a return to a tie in the AL Central.
Those with a keen sense of history and irony would also note that as the Twins were rallying but then losing, the one thing that can send Vikings fans into a cold sweat faster than anything else — problems in the kicking game — were reaching preseason panic levels.
The Purple used yet another draft pick on a specialist, trading for Kaare Vedvik and sending a 2020 fifth-round pick to Baltimore in the swap.
The kicker (pun intended) is that it’s unclear whether this kicker (no laughing matter) will work on field goals or punts because, you see, the Vikings have issues in both areas. Their holder is in flux, too, and they just made a rookie their long snapper. Other than that, they have this kicking game completely locked down.
That’s not traumatic at all for a fan base that has made mental playoff bookends out of Gary Anderson and Blair Walsh and watched last year’s fifth-round pick, Daniel Carlson, get cut after missing three field goals in Week 2 against Green Bay (only to get scooped up by Oakland and go 16-for-17 on field goals there).
The Twins very well could win the AL Central still, as 25 of their final 38 games are against the dregs of the division and, as Odorizzi correctly diagnosed, Cleveland is bound to come down to earth sometime.
And this Vedvik fellow might be the answer to every problem. Maybe he’ll placekick and punt? Maybe he’s shifty and quick enough to also snap and hold on those field goals? Maybe, at least, he will inspire confidence that he can put it through the uprights if that’s his assigned task?
Minnesota fans certainly would do well to not worry so much. It drains the fun out of things and, if you are inclined to believe in the collective energy of situations, might even have a negative impact on the very athletes trying to beat back years of history.
But calm might not be in our nature. When it comes to sports, Minnesotans have short fuses and long memories.
Sorry, Jake. You and your teammates might not be panicking, and rightfully so. But panic is what we do around here.
Three things to watch this week
• The Twins’ schedule gets easier soon, but not this week. It starts with a two-game series in Milwaukee on Tuesday, where the Brewers are battling for a playoff spot.
• The Lynx gave up 101 points in a road loss to Washington on Sunday. They’ll get a chance to erase that memory when they host the Mystics on Friday at Target Center.
• The Vikings host the Seahawks on Sunday in their second preseason game — and first at U.S. Bank Stadium. There’s still plenty to decide, including pretty much every specialist.