Dorr: No news so far on birds having fatal collisions with walls of U.S. Bank Stadium

Remember the great hue and cry from the National Audubon Society back in 2014 about the potential of birds fatally crashing into U.S. Bank Stadium, the new edifice of the Minnesota Vikings?

An Audubon representative called the stadium a “death trap” for birds and counseled the Vikings that the team could be a “global leader in green stadium design” if it gave into Audubon and changed the design, possibly by putting transparent film over the translucent glass.

Audubon threw around statistics such as birds from 125 species dying from collisions since 2007 in Minneapolis and said that an estimate showed 988 million bids die annually in the U.S. because of flying into buildings. Really, almost a billion?

A spokesperson from Audubon said that state guidelines required bird-safe glass for projects built with bonding money. The response from Michele Kelm-Haugen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, was that the design of the stadium began before adoption of those state guidelines.

Back in July of this year, a couple years after that discussion about birds flying into the 200,000 square feet of stadium glass began, the Sports Facilities Authority announced that it had reached a memorandum of understanding with the National Audubon Society for each party to equally fund a $300,000 study for three years about the supposed problem (my words).

Monitoring will begin next year and conclusions will be released in June 2019.

When the study was announced a couple months ago, Jerry Bahls, president of the Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis, estimated that 1,000 birds could die annually by running into the stadium’s glass walls.

I talked with a couple people recently who have been to concerts and games at the $1.1 billion stadium and they reported that they did not witness piles of dead birds outside the stadium. But one of those people said he was not looking for dead birds and that it was possible he had missed seeing them.

I don’t know how you feel about the stadium and its cost. I could have lived without it but, in the end, it will likely be a good thing for Minneapolis and/or Minnesota. But like the stadium or not, I’m not going to lose any sleep over the possibility of birds flying into the structure.

And, by the way, aren’t there other glass structures in downtown Minneapolis, and other large cities, that birds could crash into?

Maybe it will still happen – birds flying into the stadium walls, I mean. And maybe the three-year study will come up with some answers. And maybe a “green” stadium will become part of the landscape.

Meanwhile, it’s been much ado about nothing.

 

Twins surprisingly disappointing after 10 good weeks

Back on Aug. 10 the Minnesota Twins, off to a 6-2 start for the month, had a 5-0 lead after two innings against Houston ace Dallas Kuechel after two innings, with Ervin Santana pitching for the locals, and Brian Dozier had two at-bats, 2 RBIs and a homer. It was almost a certainty that the Twins, playing well at that time, were going to win that game.

Then the rain came and the 5-0 start, Dozier’s homer (he’d have 34 now) and a Santana start were wiped out. I emailed two baseball guys that night saying that I had a feeling it was going to be the start of something bad. Don’t know why – just had that feeling.

The Twins lost two the next day (the regular game and the make-up game) and went 3-17 the rest of the month after good months of June and July and the 6-2 start to August.

Who could have predicted that? No one. In fact, people were jumping on the Twins’ bandwagon as they kept ascending in MLB standings from the team with the worst record to becoming a team to reckon with as they kept knocking off first-place teams.

And now look what has happened- a 13-game losing streak and 14 losses ini 15 games.

If you don’t subscribe to the theory that the baseball gods have been unmercifully hard on the Twins, take a look at the 5-4 loss in Cleveland (a team the Twins were 8-5 against before this week’s series) Tuesday night.

With the score 4-4, one out and the bases loaded in the third inning, Logan Schafer hit a screamer up the middle that likely would have made it 6-4, the Twins still hitting with one out. But the pitcher threw up his glove to protect his face, the ball landed in it and a double play resulted. Then, on another line drive up the middle later on, the ball hit the Cleveland pitcher in the leg, bounced up in the air and the pitcher caught it for an out. I have NEVER seen that play while watching baseball for 60-plus years. And no one I have talked to has seen it either.

Has the pitching been horrible lately? Has the base running continued to be bad, as it has much of the season? Have there been defensive lapses? The answer to all those questions is yes.

But no one saw this coming, just like no one saw the 0-9 start to the season coming. After that horrible start there was also an 8-game losing streak, now followed by a 13-game losing streak. In between the 9-game streak and the 13-game streak the Twins were 49-62, with lots of good games.

The Twins were swept at Toronto last week and there’s no shame in that. But they scored 21 runs in three games against the Jays, the team with the best team ERA in the league. And they they lose 1-0 in Cleveland and drop the next two games after starting well in those games.

But now the season is a disaster unless they win the 28 games that remain. And the scary part is that there are really only two positions set for next year, barring a trade. Brian Dozier is set at second and, unfortunately, Joe Mauer is set at first because of his contract.

Max Kepler? Looks like a keeper but he’s not proven anything yet. But look at what Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton have done after all the hype. Buxton has had two good days after being recalled but has had a horrible season, and Sano is striking out at a record pace.

Catcher, shortstop, third base (unless the Twins keep Trevor Plouffe) and the outfield spots are all up for grabs. And we know where the pitching is, other than Santana. The pitchers can’t end an inning when they need to and some, sadly, shouldn’t be in the majors. (Did you notice that Ricky Nolasco pitched a complete-game shutout for the Angels a couple days ago?)

The team now has to win 13 of the last 27 games to keep from losing 100. What are the odds and who would have guessed that one month ago before the collapse?

SPORTS SHORTS

I talked this summer to Sam Archer, the outstanding PHS quarterback and catcher who graduated in 2015. He saw a lot of time as a pitcher at Gustavus Adolphus College this past season but hopes to get behind the plate next spring. (His Gustavus baseball coach told me Archer did a very good job as a pitcher and that the team had a senior catcher this season.) He also worked his way up to No. 2 on the depth chart last fall at quarterback behind a senior who set all kinds of records. Sam was hoping to be the starter this fall for a team that averaged 38 passes a game in 2015. Michael Veldman, a standout quarterback at Becker who walked on at North Dakota State, transferred to Gustavus and has apparently won the job for now, according to a story in the Star Tribune Thursday. Archer is listed as No. 2 . . . Watched former PHS and Princeton Panther standout Tony Stay play for Foley in the state amateur baseball tournament in Dassel last Sunday. Foley lost 6-1 to Watkins as Stay had two of the Lumberjacks’ three hits and scored the only run. Stay lives in Florida . . . I thought WCCO’s Mark Rosen stepped over the line, as he seems to do more and more, a couple nights ago after the Twins lost 1-0. His remark was “send in the clowns” in reference to the team’s losing streak . . . If you need proof that things have gotten out of hand in youth sports, consider this: They used video replay in the Little League World Series this year. That’s ridiculous . . . Spotted at Cold Spring a couple weekends ago: Former PHS and Panther teammates Chad Campbell and Brian Dorr umpiring the title game of a Class B region with perennial power Cold Spring and the St. Cloud Saints playing. The two worked many, many high school and college games together for many years but haven’t muchin the past few years . . . I’ve been accused by some (especially a former Army buddy from St. Paul who lives in New Jersey) about praising Brian Dozier too much. But I’m sure, with the year he’s having, that if he was playing in New York, Boston, Los Angeles or other “big” markets, he’d be getting a lot more press. After his 13-homer month in August he has 27 homers the past three months and has played in 90 games in a row, almost unheard of these days. And get this – he’s averaging an extra-base hit every 7.4 at-bats and had a extra-base hit in 22 of the Twins’ 29 games in August, as well as 51 of the team’s 82 games the last three months. The last three months he hit.305 and had a slugging percentage of .655. Some of those figures are unworldly . . . Aided by a PHS pass with 90 seconds to go that stopped the clock, Sauk Rapids drove 80 yards and rallied to beat Princeton 16-14 with a field goal as time ran out Friday night, giving PHS grad Phillip Klaphake a win in his first game as a high school coach. It was a tough-luck loss for the Tigers on their home field after they rallied to take a late lead on a 78-yard pass from Damon Rademacher  to Jake Carlson . . . If you’re a fan of Bob Backlund, the 1968 PHS grad and state wrestling champion who went on to become known world wide as a pro wrestler, there’s a book out about his life that is worth reading. We hope to have an interview with Bob before next week’s blog. The book has lots of inside stuff about the world of pro wrestling that is fascinating to read.

SPORTS MEMORIES

Sept. 14, 1961 – Jerry Robideau scored the only touchdown in a 19-6 loss to Sauk Rapids in the PHS football opener.

Sept. 9, 1966 – There were 85 golfers entered in the annual shortstop (27 holes) tournament at Rum River Golf Club . . . The Jaycees were to play members of the local women’s softball team in a game of donkey softball at 2 p.m. on the elementary field.

Sept. 16, 1971 – Princeton beat Orono 7-6 in the football opener, Mike Grow scoring the touchdown and Dan Kne kicking the extra point. Grow ran for 116 yards.

Sept. 16, 1978 – Byron Nolan won a playoff with Arnold Dahle for the senior title at Rum River Golf Club. Both shot 77 . . .  Jim Peterson (a state entrant on the trampoline the year before) was co-captain with Daryl Kessler of the PHS gymnastics team.

Sept. 10, 1981 – Lisa Herman placed first in a seven-team cross-country meet at Mora . . . Princeton upset Foley in overtime, 18-15, as quarterback Jim Belfiori, who had run for a touchdown and thrown for one, scrambled in from the 4-yard line on fourth down.

Sept. 11, 1986 – In the first event ever in the new high school gym, Princeton lost to Rockford in volleyball .. . The PHS football team upset No. 1-rated Mora, 20-7, a late 97-yard run by Bryan Hoff sealing the win.

Sept. 12, 1991 – Jesse McAlpine ran for 96 yards but Princeton unexpectedly lost 20-12 to Pine City to begin the season 0-2 . . . The PHS volleyball team won the Princeton Cup Volleyball Classic, beating Minnetonka for the title, serving at 93% as Becky Cook, Corrine Lundell and Tanya Dorr served well.

Sept. 12, 1996 – Jason Kral stole the ball from a Chisago Lakes back and ran 31 yards for a touchdown as PHS beat the Wildcats 25-12. He also had an interception . . . Justine Topel broke two PHS swim records, one of them by Kelly Keen in 1986.

Sept. 6, 2001 – Linebacker Joel Jensen ran a blocked punt for a TD and a 13-6 lead as Princeton won 25-8 at Duluth East. Quarterback Dane Larsen scored twice, ran for 50 yards and threw for 103 . . . The Kingsley Construction c0-rec Class D softball team had a 3-2 record at state.

Sept. 7, 2006 – The tennis team won its third straight, 4-3 at Little Falls as No. 1 singles Kelli Winkelman won 6-0, 6-0 . . . The PHS volleyball team had a 2-1 lead but lost in five sets to Chisago Lakes as Ali Fischer had 23 set assists and 6 ace serves.

Sept. 8, 2011- Former PHS athletes were competing in college. Shannon Guse ran for the St. Scholastica women’s cross-country team, Nate Hoffman was a defensive linemn for Central Lakes College, and Phillip Klaphake ran for two touchdowns and threw for one in a St. Cloud State win.