Two sports needed to fill this week’s column

Brian Kimmes

Brian Kimmes

I could not find one topic that I could write a full-length column on, so you will get two half-length columns. Enjoy.

The first topic is the Vikings trading Daunte Culpepper for a second-round pick. Culpepper has been the source of much love and disdain for many Viking fans. He has been both wonderful and terrible for the Vikings. Throughout his career, it seems that for every potential sack he has shaken off, he has committed a fumble. For every 25-yard scramble, he has thrown an interception. He is great one moment, and terrible the next moment.

So who is the real Culpepper? Which quarterback did the Vikings trade? Is Culpepper MVP-worthy quarterback of 2004, or the bench-worthy quarterback of 2005?

I believe it is somewhere in the middle. I do not think Culpepper is as good as he was in the 2004 season, nor do I think he is as bad as he was in the 2005 season. I believe Culpepper will be good for about 24 touchdowns a year, and about 24 turnovers a year. He will win some games for the Dolphins with great plays, but also lose some games for them with stupid plays.

How the trade truly affects the Vikings will not be known for a few years. As long as Brad Johnson stays healthy this year, Minnesota will be all right. However, Johnson is not the long-term solution at quarterback because he is in his late 30s. The true telling of the Culpepper trade will be what kind of quarterback the Vikings get to replace Johnson. If Minnesota cannot get a consistent quarterback, the trade will be very bad for the Vikings. If Minnesota drafts a young quarterback who falters or signs veterans who cannot handle a starting job, Minnesota will regret trading Culpepper. If the Vikings can get a solid young quarterback, or a solid veteran who can lead the team to success for a number of years, then trading Culpepper will prove a good move.

The second topic is the recently finished inaugural World Baseball Classic (WBC).

The WBC includes teams from all over the world, such as Japan, Korea, South Africa, Cuba and Canada. The Classic is scheduled for every four years.

I, like many people, think the WBC is a very good thing, but the timing of it is bad. It takes place during Major League Baseball spring training. If MLB players choose to play for their home countries, they are forced to miss part of their teams’ spring training. This poses multiple problems.

First, the participants of the WBC are forced to play meaningful, competitive games without the benefit of a spring training. Spring training serves multiple purposes for the players. It is a way for them to sharpen their baseball skills after not playing for a few months. Secondly, it allows their bodies to get back into shape. That is especially important for pitchers, who need to build up arm strength for the season.

Spring training is also a time for players to bond with each other, get to know new teammates and build team chemistry. If multiple key players are gone, a team will have difficulty building that chemistry.

Also, spring training is the time to set rosters. It is difficult for coaches to evaluate their players if they are not in camp.

Having the players compete at a high level before their bodies are fully prepared can lead to potential injuries. If a player stays injury free during the WBC, another couple of weeks of rigorous play will take its toll on the body as the season continues.

Because of the concern regarding injuries, pitchers have been put on pitch counts, meaning they can only throw a certain number of pitches in a game. Putting physical limits on what the players can do seems, to me, to taint the games.

An alternative time for the WBC is after the season. That option has both positives and negatives.

Playing the tournament after the MLB season ends has the huge advantage of not disrupting the MLB season at all. The players should all be in top form. The downside is that those players not in the playoffs would have been idle for a while and the players in the playoffs would be getting tired and worn down. Injuries would not be as big a factor because the players would have the off-season to recover. Playing in the WBC shortens the off-season once every four years as well.

I think the WBC is a good idea, especially with the removal of baseball from the Olympics. I think moving the classic to after the MLB season would solve a lot of problems and create more interest.

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