Pick up the Slack: Fielder, Manning, Nadal-Federer and TC the Bear

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It’s a Thursday afternoon and I miraculously find myself with an hour of downtime.

If only I could land that Twins General Manager job, I could sign a couple of aging veterans and then just do relax like this all of the time.

Anyway, there’s so much to cover, so little time and I have just enough energy to do it, so here we go:


Prince Fielder signs with Tigers

Unfortunately, we have to start with the almost-literal elephant in the room, as Detroit Tigers inked massive first baseman Prince Fielder to an equally massive contract, $214 million over nine years.

While everything points to this being a bad deal in the long term, it certainly strengthens Detroit as the prohibitive favorite in the A.L. Central for the next few years.

While the Twins are mysteriously crying poor and paring down their payroll only two years into a new ballpark, the Tigers, playing in one of the most economically depressed cities in the country, are amping theirs up because they have an owner who wants to win.

Minnesota’s ownership is certainly under no obligation to go out and make such extravagant signings, but Detroit just proved that it can no longer pretend that it can’t.

The only thing standing in the way is a set of owners cut from the same cloth as their father, far more concerned with squeezing every last cent out of fans than putting a winner on the field.


NFL playoffs

After a relatively lackluster opening week of postseason actions, save the Denver-Pittsburgh overtime game, the NFL delivered back-to-back weeks of very compelling action that has resulted in a dynamite Super Bowl rematch from four years ago.

In that game, the Giants derailed the 18-0 Patriots’ hopes of becoming the first 19-0 team in history.

This time around, the Patriots are still viewed as the favorites, but are much more vulnerable.

No matter which team wins, one person who most certainly won’t is Peyton Manning, who will either see his brother win his second title or arch rival Tom Brady win his fourth while Peyton remains stuck with one.


Jim Irsay

Speaking of Peyton Manning, the Indianapolis Colts’ owner Jim Irsay said this morning that he wished that Manning had kept his recent comments regarding a change in atmosphere around the team “in-house.”

This kind of foolish hypocrisy is usually reserved for the political arena, with a loudmouth owner who tweets first and thinks later trying to silence a star who has made his franchise exponentially more valuable.

Of course Irsay would have liked Manning to have kept quiet, he’s going to either have to cut the player who has made the Colts relevant or give a $28 million roster bonus to a 36-year old player coming off a career-threatening injury.

Anyone who sees the latter as still being a viable option after Irsay’s latest comments is kidding themselves.


Nadal-Federer Aussie semis

I unfortunately made the responsible decision this morning and didn’t get up at 2:30 to watch the Australian Open semifinal between legendary rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

The duo evidently turned in another dandy, with Nadal prevailing in four sets.

With Federer reaching the end of his career and Nadal owning twice as many wins as losses in his career against him, Federer’s claim to the best player of all time appears to be murky at best.

To be fair, Nadal has faced Federer almost exclusively during his own prime while Federer has been in his late 20s and now early 30s, the usual age of decline of tennis players.

However, if Nadal’s body holds together and he pulls close to Federer’s Grand Slam title mark (Federer has 17, Nadal 10), Nadal may be the one considered to be the greatest when all is said and done.

That’s all for this time, as I head off to see the Twins Winter Caravan in Little Falls. Don’t know the protocol on journalists asking for autographs, but I may just have to make an exception for TC the Bear.