by Thomas U. Tuttle
It was Minnesota Twins pitcher Ervin Santana’s birthday on the day I arrived in La Romana, Dominican Republic this past December 12th. I know this because my taxi driver, Ernesto, let me know the fact when I told him I was from Minnesota.
“Ah, the Twins,” he said. “Today is the birthday of the best pitcher on your team.” He then revealed that his amigo Santana was turning 35 years old this very day, while also indicating his broader knowledge of US sports when he added that the Vikings were his “favorite US football team.”
Yep, the Purple are big even in the Carribean, where baseball is the far-and-away king of sport, with a four-team winter league underway while I was there. I thoroughly enjoyed the contest between San Pedro de Macoris – hometown of Miguel Sano – and Santo Domingo, home of numerous Big Leaguers.
Dominican’s makeup over 12% of the Major Leagues, and the influence of the US national pastime on their island is deep and profound – and fodder for another story, soon to come.
The Vikings, meanwhile, are becoming inescapable anywhere one travels, given the enormous popularity of the National Football League combined with the quality of this year’s winning squad.
When I asked Ernesto if he knew the name of the team’s quarterback, he drew a blank, but he said that he could show me Sammy Sosa’s house at Casa de Campo resort complex… Maybe next time, señor!
Hey, Case Keenum has been flying under the radar for a lot of people, even solid fans around the USA! The man with the excellent passer rating and exceptional quarterback skills has been winning football games and converts at about the same pace over the last several weeks
Keenum has improved over the course of the season, stepping in and stepping up. This week he’ll lead the 11-3 Vikings to Green Bay, where the Purple Gang will continue their effort to secure home field advantage for the NFL Playoffs.
It’s going to be about 70 degrees cooler on Sunday than it was in the DR last week, roughly 85° versus 15° farenheit.
Not baseball weather, eh Ernesto? The Big E (as I called him, a true gentleman for putting up with my bad Spanish) thinks that the Twins might make it to the World Series behind Sano and Santana, but doesn’t necessarily have a pick for the Super Bowl. “Maybe Minnesota, eh?”
Yes, maybe the Vikings. And while that might cost the league a bit of revenue, with numerous fans rolling into town all the way from the south metro, it could happen. The Philadelphia Eagles loom as a team to beat, if things were to play out a certain way, and I’m still hurting from being hammered out in Philly a few years ago – both on the field and in the restaurant following the game.
It might have been the last year of the jail in the bowels of Lincoln Financial stadium, I’m not sure. But there were a few thugs being held near the base of the press elevator. Philly is tough, the fans are rough, and my belief is that Minnesota’s road to a home Super Bowl game is going to run through Philadelphia.