There it was — a bright, shiny quarter (New Mexico, I think) lying on the concrete at a local gas station last Sunday morning. Should I pick it up? Would someone see?

Of course. Why not pick it up? If I didn't pick it up someone else would have. 

I wrote a column quite a few years back in which I established that picking up abandoned or lost coins wasn't a bad thing. I quoted a friend of the same (now advanced) age who said he had made his way through the military checking out the areas of pay phones for coins that had found their way to the ground. And since those years in the '60s, he said, more and more people just leave coins on the ground when they drop them and that he wasn't above picking them up.

It was a two-day bonanza for me over the weekend, There were also three pennies on the floor of the press box at Solheim Veterans Field, a nickel outside a grocery store, and a dime on a sidewalk in the heart of the downtown. Unless my math is wrong, that amounted to a whopping 43 cents.

Not a game-changer, you say? That's true. But I put them in a plastic cup that is on the receiving end of all those finds and then, once every few months, along with my regular change that isn't as ill-gotten, I cash them in at a financial institution to put toward a fund to slightly assist grandchildren who are attending college.

OK, I'm having fun with the whole picking-up-coins thing. But there's a larger problem here, as documented in the editorial section of Monday's StarTribune, and I wanted to get you interested as you may be making fun of someone who picks up coins. 

The headline on the editorial — "Nickled and dimed" — caught my attention as I caught up on reading three or four days worth of papers after spending eight out of nine days at the ballpark over a couple weekends.

The writer told about being at a doughnut shop in the Twin Cities and, with a half dozen customers in line, the customer in front of the line was informed by the cashier that she didn't have any coins to give the customer for change after his bill didn't come out to an even dollar amount.

The customer "decided to absorb the discrepancy" the editorial writer wrote, though the customer added: "Tell your boss to go to the bank." That might not have helped, the editorial writer said. 

It's happening everywhere. Just in the last week or two I've seen signs at a couple businesses warning customers that the business was not in the possession of certain coins and that those businesses would appreciate it if customers would help out by giving up their change.

Billions of coins are minted each year in the United States, the editorial said, but at that moment the customer did not possess any of then, and neither did the doughnut shop.

The problem, which apparently began during the pandemic, is that more and more people are keeping their change. "Many people have referred to this as a shortage," writes the U.S. Coin Task Force, which was created last year to help out with the problem. That bureaucratic entity tells us there is not a shortage. The task force, according to the editorial, says there is approximately $48.5 billion worth of coins in circulation, much of which is "sitting dormant inside American's 128 million households."

The editorial writer suggests looking in piggy banks and drawers, or even under couch cushions. And just in case you know what a hashtag is, the task force has one — #getcoinmoving.

Of course we're in the era of credit cards (me) or smart phone technology (not me) and you can avoid the coin thing by using those methods to pay. I'm way behind the curve on the new technologies, so much so that I was amazed last weekend when a fan at the ballpark didn't have any money to pay for a ticket and a stranger stepped up to pay her bill and then she paid him by sending money from her phone to his. Whew - didn't know you could do that but I'm told it's been around for awhile now and that, for instance, groups do it at restaurants so the waitperson doesn't have to collect individually.

Back at the doughnut shop, Customer No. 2 stepped up, wrote the editorial writer, and he ordered one maple glazed and one double chocolate, his bill coming to $2.55. He had no change, the cashier had no change, and he handed over three dollar bills. He had seen the person ahead of him and told the cashier, "Don't worry about it." Trouble is, now the bookkeeper will have to figure out where the extra 45 cents came from.

I guess we all better gather those pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters and get them back in circulation. While you're at it, pick up those abandoned coins and help out the U.S. Coin Task Force. They need it with a name like that. Are those people getting a salary? 

Ho hum, Twins still last in division

It was a rare walk-off win in the 10th inning Monday night for the Minnesota Twins but, for me, the biggest news in Tuesday morning's Minneapolis paper was that Byron Buxton, after all the speculation by some writers to the contrary the past couple weeks, said he wants to stay in Minnesota. Of course, now the Twins have to get a deal done, the story saying that talks broke down last weekend.

Buxton has missed 74 of the team's103 games this season and has played in fewer than half of the team's games the past five seasons. This year he was off to the best start of his career and, at age 27, looked as though he had finally gotten around to being the player many thought he would be. 

It's a tough situation but they have to sign him and give him another try to stay healthy. If they don't sign Buxton and Jose Berrios, I won't be seeing any games at Target Field the rest of this season. I didn't mind seeing Nelson Cruz go because that was a given, and he's older. Let's hope at least one of the two pitchers they got in the Cruz deal pans out. But they have to retain Buxton and Berrios.

It was a nice win Monday night, the ninth walk-off hit of Max Kepler's career rescuing the team after another late-inning failure to hold a lead, reliever Taylor Rogers having to leave the game in the ninth inning with an injury. But the lineup that night shows where the team is in 2021. And the game-tying homer by the Tigers in the ninth inning also shows were the team is. Check out the stats in the next two paragraphs.

Minnesota pitchers have given up more home runs than any team in the majors. And there are lots of multi-run homers included, as was the case Monday when former Twin Robbie Grossman tied the game with a pinch-hit two-run homer. (Grossman was so-so with the Twins and had 50 homers in eight seasons in the majors before this year. Now he has 16. Go figure.)

Even worse than leading the majors in home runs surrendered was the lineup the Twins put out there Monday night. Here are the averages of the nine players: .126, .170, .195, .220, .220, .228, .235, .249 and .262 — three players under .200 and seven at .235 or lower. Those nine players had driven in an average of only 25 runs apiece in nearly two-thirds of the season and were hitting a collective .226.

Luis Arraez, hitting .305 after a recent surge, wasn't in the lineup because he is on the injured list for the third time this season and is in danger of becoming the new Byron Buxton. He has missed 39 of the team's 103 games this season (playing in only 66% of the games) and missed 28 of 60 last season (only 53%) He's a good hitter and gets lots of praise from announcers for not striking out much but he does make outs on lots of pitches out of the strike zone. He has a .322 average over his three seasons and has 68 walks and 68 strikeouts in 681 at-bats. IF he can stay healthy, maybe it's time to install him at second base and move Jorge Polanco back to shortstop and end the Andrelton Simmons experiment at shortstop. Simmons has made some great plays this season but isn't much of a hitter and, unbelievably, three of his errors have come on dropped throws, two of which cost the team wins.

Manager Rocco Baldelli removed rookie pitcher Bailey Ober last Sunday so that Ober didn't have to face Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani in the sixth inning. Ober had pitched well, striking out Ohtanni in his previous at-bat, and the lefty reliever Baldelli sent to the mound gave up a homer to Ohtani and a 2-2 game turned into a 6-2 loss, the Twins making 27 outs without a run after two homers to lead off the game in the first inning. I thought he should have left Ober in to try to get Ohtani. How are young players going to learn about those situations if they aren't given a chance? Maybe Ohtani would also have homered off Ober but we'll never know.

Baldelli has gotten lots of credit for piloting two division-winning teams the past two years. It should be noted that he was given a lot better lineup in 2019 than what Paul Molitor had in 2018, Molitor getting fired after being AL manager of the year in 2017. If you get the credit then should you not also get the blame when things go wrong? Only four of the 30 teams in the majors have worse records than Minnesota, a team that is 16 1/2 games out of first place in its division.

Late note on Wednesday morning: The Twins blew a 5-1 lead over Detroit in the ninth inning on Tuesday and lost 6-5 in 11 innings, thus wasting a very good pitching performance by Kenta Maeda, just as they did a few days earlier when Berrios pitched a very good game and took a loss because of no run support. The Twins had a runner on third with one out in the 10th and couldn't score a run. How many ninth-inning collapses have there been this year?  

PRINCETON SPORTS MEMORIES

Aug. 9, 1956 - In Tuesday afternoon racing at the Mille Lacs County Fair Jerry Bockhoven won the feature race.

Aug. 10, 1961 - Exactly 1,000 tickets were sold for Friday night racing at Princeton Speedway as 40 drivers competed.

Aug. 5, 1966 - Three runs in the ninth inning gave Princeton a 6-4 win over Palmer in town team baseball. Art Skarohlid getting the win. Skarohlid, Bill Bahlman and Gene Grams each got two hits.

Aug. 12, 1971 - The Princeton town team beat Nowthen in a playoff game, 4-2, as Ron Deglmann struck out 14 and Luther Dorr had two hits . . . Bob Anderson, with a round of 79, won the senior title at Rum River Golf Club.

Aug. 11, 1976 - Dave Mingo got the win as the Princeton town team eliminated Forest Lake from Eastern Minny playoffs with a 6-2 win in 10 innings, Mark Enger getting a two-run single in the 10th . . . Fred Jenson, with a 12-0 record to that point, lost 3-2 to Edina in District 10 playoffs on three unearned runs in the seventh inning. Princeton finished 29-6.

Aug. 6, 1981 - Eighteen-year-old Steve Lodien edged Rod Anderson 145 to 148and became the youngest men's champion ever at Rum River Golf Club . . . Brothers Joel and Buzz Johnson totaled 5 hits and batted in 6 runs as Princeton beat St. Francis 11-3 in a playoff game for the town team.

Aug. 7, 1986 - The Princeton Legion baseball team lost 2-0 to Centennial ini District 10 play. That ended a 10-game winning streak and the team finished with a 27-6 record . . . Chris Fransen shot a 78 as Princeton won the Five Star women's golf competition among five towns.

Aug. 8, 1991 - The Freichels' Super Valu women's softball team advanced to the state Class B tournament . . . Pitcher Ray Miron had three shutouts as the local Taco John's team won the Kenny Matthewman Memorial softball tournament in Princeton by winning 7 of 8 games.

Aug. 8, 1996 - Princeton beat Hinckley 2-1 in 11 innings with seven innings of shutout relief by Mickey Branchaud. The Panthers advanced to Region 1C play as the No. 1 seed . . . Judy Ziegler won two events at the state trapshooting event in St. Cloud.

Aug. 2, 2001 - The Princeton Panthers (23-7) beat Quamba 8-7 and 16-0 to advance to region play. The first game took two days, the game being suspended on a Friday after three innings with Quamba leading 5-1. The two teams had played more than 30 games since the inception of the Panthers in 1989 and Princeton had never lost to Quamba. Brian Julson hit two homers in the same inning and drove in six runs as Jason Miller pitched a two-hit seven-inning shutout in which he threw only 66 pitches . . . The Princeton Legion team (20-7) beat Chisago Lakes 6-0 behind Luke Bakken and 7-3 behind Brent Julson to advance to District 10 play. Bakken pitched a one-hitter and brothers Dane and Karl Larsen each homered in the first inning of the first game. Dane Larsen had four hits in the 7-3 win.

Aug. 3, 2006 - The Country Homes/Northwest Fab coed softball team from Princeton placed second in the state Class D tournament. The team had to play seven consecutive games on Sunday after losing a 9 a.m. game. Adam Miron led the team with a .777 average in the tournament . . . The Legion baseball team (20-9) hit .307 in the District 10 tournament at St. Louis Park and just missed a trip to the state tournament, losing 5-4 to Hopkins in the team's sixth game in 84 hours. Earlier in the day Princeton beat Tri-City Blue 9-6. On the first day of this tournament Princeton beat Edina 14-11 and Delano 12-0, Brandon Knoll and Josh Ludwig getting the wins. Ludwig led with 9 RBIs in the tournament. Knoll was 6-1 for the season with an ERA of 1.53. For the season Zach Neubauer hit .424, Scott Roehl .421 and Knoll .405.

 

Aug. 4, 2011 - The Princeton Panthers beat Champlin Park 8-3 and 8-7 to advance in the playoffs. Josh Ludwig pitched the 8-3 win as Jake Maros, Tyler Bialucha and Jordan Neubauer each drove in two runs. Ben Johnson had a two-run triple in the 10th inning. Maros drove in three runs and Jesse Zimmer two in the second game.

Aug. 4, 2016 - The Legion baseball team finished 1-2 at the state tournament in Delano. Princeton beat Grand Rapids 5-1 in the first round as Sam Larson pitched a three-hitter in the nine-inning game and Joe Bernard drove in four runs and had a homer and two doubles. The team then lost 6-2 to Maple Grove as Damon Rademacher, Larson and Bernard each had three hits, and then lost 11-1 to Little Falls and finished 18-9 for the season . . . The Princeton team placed third in the annual Five Star women's golf competition as Michelle Hagen led with an 88 on the Princeton team's home course.

(Dorr is the former editor of the Princeton Eagle (2 years) and Princeton Union-Eagle (31 years), and has written about sports in the area for the past 54 years.)

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