Veteran Star Tribune columnist Pat Reusse beat me to the punch with his column in Thursday's edition but I'll go ahead anyway with comments about the Minnesota Twins possibly parting ways with outfielder Eddie Rosario, as well as the Minnesota Timberwolves giving a huge contract (four years, $60 million) to Malik Beasley, a guy facing charges for drugs and for violence that includes allegedly pointing a rifle at his 1-year-old son.

I was sitting in the stands at Target Field the night in 2015 when Rosario made his major league debut by hitting a home run in his first at-bat. Fans of the Twins had been hearing good things about him in the minor leagues and it was quite a way to start his career. He was pretty much a regular the rest of that season, appearing in 122 games, hitting 13 homers and driving in 60 runs while displaying a strong throwing arm from the outfield.

Last season was his sixth with the team and in the pandemic-shortened season of 60 games, he drove in a team-leading 42 runs and hit 13 homers, a pace of about 35 homers and 107 RBIs over a normal season. That followed up his 2019 performance that included 32 homers and 109 RBIs, after 24 homers and 77 RBIs in 2018 and 27 homers and 78 RBIs in 2017. He cut his strikeouts down last season to one every 6.2 at-bats (Miguel Sano stuck out once every two at-bats) after striking out once every 3.8 at-bats as a rookie.

I'll get in line with others who criticized him at times for his crazy adventures as a baserunner and his penchant for throwing to the wrong base on a number of occasions. You can excuse those things as a rookie but when he's still doing the same things six years later, it just doesn't make sense.

Earlier this week the Twins put him on waivers and the other 29 teams in the majors passed on picking him up, the Twins not wanting to pay him the money a guy with those kinds of statistics normally gets - supposedly. I think his occasional wackiness on the bases and in the outfield entered into the decision to put him on waivers. Sure, maybe the Twins didn't want to pay him but I also think the manager and general manager didn't like some of the foolish things he sometimes did.

The Twins are taking a gamble that they have players ready to take the place of Rosario in left field, namely Alex Kiriloff, the team's first-round draft pick in 2016 who has played one major league game, or possibly Brent Rooker who did well in seven games in September before an injury cut his season short. Both are good prospects but, at this point, that's what they are - prospects. Byron Buxton, who missed a third of the season in 2020 because of injuries, has been a "prospect" for years now.

If you go by performance, Rosario had a way better year than left-handed reliever Taylor Rogers who got banged around with regularity much of last season. Yet the Twins gave Rogers a one-year deal for $6 million on Thursday. The team also signed Jose Berrios to a one-year contract for $6.1 million, injury-prone Byron Buxton got a one-year $5.125 million contract, and others were signed to one-year contracts, including catcher Mitch Garver who had a injury-filled season in 2020 with almost no production as a hitter. And yet the Twins apparently don't want to pay Rosario the $10 million he might get in arbitration.

It's hard for a team to dismiss a player who is is likely to hit about 30 homers and drive in 100 runs but in this analytic-driven world of present-day baseball, that's what it appears the Twins are willing to do.

Beasley is a different case, although he, too, has produced. In 14 games with the woeful Wolves last season

 he averaged 20.7 points a game and had a good shooting percentage on three-pointers. So, after 14 games while playing with a team that was going nowhere, Beasley gets a $60 million contract for four years.

A couple making the Parade of Homes tour in September pulled up to the Beasley house but it was roped off. It's alleged that Beasley pointed a rife at them and told them to get off the  property. And Hennepin County filed to have his son put into protection after surveillance video allegedly showed Beasley pointing a rifle in the direction of his son earlier that day. The incident with the couple at the house that day also led, Reusse reported, to "the discovery of a marijuana stash not deemed to be for medicinal purposes."

The Wolves are backing Beasley, as proven by the $60 million contract. Both Gersson Rosas, the team's president of basketball operations, and Ryan Saunders, the team's coach, are backing Beasley who says he is thankful for the opportunity and has to learn how "to keep growing and keep being better on and off the court."

Best wishes to Rosario, wherever he lands, and to Beasley as he seeks to better himself. Neither will have to stand in line at a food bank. Meanwhile, the world of professional sports gets crazier and crazier every year as the cost of tickets balloons beyond the reach of many. Some long for the good ol' days when players had off-season jobs so they could make ends meet. 



 PHS enrollment, size of opponent schools

Near the end of the high school sports seasons it was mentioned that it was nice for the PHS football team (final record 6-1, ranked No. 9 in Class AAAA, section co-champs with Becker) to be playing teams this year that were about its size enrollment-wise. That was a reference to playing for a number of years in the Mississippi 8 Conference against the likes of St. Michael-Albertville (enrollment 1,989, 17th-largest in the state), Buffalo (1,720, 27th) and Rogers (1,511, 42nd), all of whom have since left the conference. Even Cambridge (1,316, 58th), St. Francis (1,234, 64th) and Monticello (1,113, 74th), still in the M8, are larger, as is Chicago Lakes (1,035, 78th), a school Princeton (900, 90th)) was larger than for many of the years it was in the same conference (Rum River and M8).

Enrollment certainly doesn't decide everything, although football is a "numbers game" more than most sports. There are definitely smaller schools that simply have great programs in some sports, and larger schools that have some sports that aren't very competitive despite a much larger enrollment. It will always be that way because of coaching, plus the history of some programs in some districts that seem to go on forever, desipite the lack of size. 

It just didn't happen to be, this fall anyway, that Princeton played schools its size in football. Delano, the team Princeton beat in section playoffs, was the largest at 772. Princeton's only loss came against Annandale (497 enrollment, ranked No 1 in Class AAA). The other five wins were against St. Cloud Cathedral (409), Zimmerman (646). Milaca (439), Foley (556) and Little Falls (650). The average size of Princeton's seven opponents (fewer than usual because of the pandemic cutbacks) was 567, considerably smaller than Princeton's 900. There isn't much difference between Delano and Princeton (about 32 per grade for grades 912) but the difference between Princeton and Milaca is 491, about 123 per grade, a sizable difference. 

Since this was an unusual year because of the pandemic I took a look at 2019, a more-normal year. The Tigers were 5-5 and with Dassel-Cokato (568), Albany (487), Big Lake (821) and Becker (836) on the schedule the average enrollment of opponents was 591. Princeton lost to Dassel-Cokato 20-14, lost to Albany 50-12, beat Big Lake 21-6 in the playoffs and lost 37-0 to Becker. I also took a look at 2018 when Princeton was no longer playing St. Michael, Buffalo and Rogers and was in a section with Becker, Willmar, St. Cloud Apollo, Rocori, Hutchinson and Big Lake. In a tough 1-8 season in which the PHS team gave up 36 points a game there was a win over Tech, a larger school, but losses to state powers Rocori (enrollment 713) and Hutchinson (867), as well as Big Lake during the season and in the playoffs.

Princeton is fifth in enrollment now in the Mississippi 8 with Becker (836) and Big Lake (821) being minimally smaller and North Branch at 767 It should also be noted that Princeton's schedule is pretty much decided by the state because of its section placements..

A look at how section placements are decided reveals that both enrollment (grades 9-12) and geography are taken into consideration, and that the Minnesota State High School League's board of directors reviews and approves those placements every two years. Schools have the right to opt out of their classification and can move up to a class with larger schools, as St. Michael-Albertville has done  in football very successfully, or move down down a classification if approved.

Enrollment figures vary widely by classifications in some sports. There are six classes in football, besides a 9-man class, and Princeton is in AAAA where the enrollments range from 570 to 1,085. There are four basketball classes and Princeton boys and girls are in AAA where the enrollment ranges from 585 to 1,237. There are two classes in hockey and Princeton boys and girls are in Class A, boys teams ranging from 1,251 and below, and the girls from 1,156 and below. The local teams with perhaps the toughest class placement are the girls and boys tennis teams that are in Class AA, the top class among only two, where there are 80-plus schools over the 1,000 enrollment mark, 40 of those at 1,500 or more. The 64 smallest schools that have tennis are in Class A, the rest in AA. For example the girls tennis team has, over the past decade, competed against more than 15 of those 40 schools with enrollments of 1,500 or more.

There are some disparities in each sport every year it seems, with schools required to go against schools with much larger enrollments. Minnesota was a one-class state in every sport until the '70s when things began to change. It's not a perfect system, by far, but does give schools a better chance to compete on a more level basis. For example, Princeton (900 enrollment) doesn't have to compete against Anoka (2,037) in any section or state tournament except in tennis.



PRINCETON SPORTS MEMORIES

Dec. 9. 1965 —  In a game where 58 fouls were called, Princeton beat Braham 71-45. Dave Duncan had 16 points, Steve Cartwright 14, Tim Enger 12 and Ron Rick 12.

Dec. 2  1970 —Princeton lost 76-51 to Cambridge as Pete Metcalf had 22 points and 8 rebounds.

Dec. 3, 1975 — John Griswold (138 pounds) remained undefeated as Princeton lost 56-3 to Elk River in wrestling . . . Scott Kelley scored 25 points as Princeton beat Mora 63-55.

Dec. 4, 1980 — A last-second shot gave Milaca a 45-43 win over Princeton at Milaca. Les Nelson scored 15 points and Jim Peterson had 12. Both had 10 rebounds . . . David Rittenour, wrestling at 145 pounds, won the individual championship at the Forest Lake tournament and had an 8-0 record at that point.

Dec. 5, 1985 —Princeton beat Foley for the seventh straight time in boys basketball, 47-43. Jason Gesch had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Bryan Hoff had 10 points . . . Princeton lost 3-2 in overtime to Centennial in hockey as Dan Voce and Dean Groebner scored for the Tigers.

Dec. 6, 1990 — Princeton beat Cambridge 59-40 as Corrine Lundell had 21 points, Kris Bottema 16 and Rachel Brown 10 . . . Troy Anderson, Jason Moulton and Mark Anderson scored 10 points apiece in a 54-50 loss to St. Cloud Apollo . . . PHS grad Craig Talberg was named a junior college All-American in football for the University of Minnesota, Crookston. His 11 interceptions led the nation.

Dec. 14, 1995 — Chad Olson scored 18 points and Rob Isaacson 11 as Princeton beat Spring Lake Park in the season opener, 48-45 . . .The girls basketball team beat Como Park 51-31 as Mandee Young had 16 points.

Dec. 7 2000 — Jenny Cartwright was named MVP for the girls tennis team . . . The girls hockey team beat Sartell-Sauk Rapids 7-0 as Rachael Martin (2 periods) and Heather Ekstrom combined for the shutout.Jenny Hanson had three goals and Katy Finstrom three assists . . .Roxy Stang, a 2000 PHS grad, scored three power-play goals for St.Cloud State against Princeton University in a weekend series. She had 5 goals and 3 assists in eight games to that point after starting the season late because of an injury.

Dec. 8, 2005 — Chosen for the Princeton High School Hall of Fame were Bob Backlund, Lester Nelson, Chuck Johnson, Corrine Lundell and Luther Dorr. Sgt. Bryan Opskar, killed in action while serving with the Marines, was an honorary inductee . . . The girls gymnastics team lost to Elk River but got first places from Susan Dalchow on the uneven bars and Emily Dehn on the balance beam. 

Dec. 9, 2010 — The girls basketball team opened the season with a 69-52 win over St. Francis and then beat Milaca 62-30.  Mariah Clarin had 25 points and 14 rebounds in the St. Francis game, Brooke Karst had 18 points, Kadie Savage 10 and Ashley Mcalpine 8. Clarin and Savage each had 14 in the Milaca game as 11 players scored for Princeton . . . Princeton lost 5-3 to Chisago Lakes in boys hockey as Jake Green, Chase Lindenfelser and Collin Buness scored goals.

Dec. 3, 2015 — The boys basketball team beat Cloquet 78-45 as Brady Peterson had 27 points, Reed Mitchell 16, Allen Lindner 12 and Logan Miller 9 . . . Senior Bri Dorr was inducted into the Tiger Tennis Hall of Fame with 125 wins as she, Sarah Stark, Reliee Schepper, Kelsey Dorr and Anna Dahlen made all-conference. 

(Dorr is the former editor of the Princeton Eagle (2 years) and Princeton Union-Eagle (31 years), and has covered sports in the area for the past 53 years.)



MEMORY LANE

(Note: This week's Memory Lane feature includes items from the last three weeks in November. The plan is to run this feature once every month with items from that month's editions of the Princeton Union and Princeton Union-Eagle of  25, 50, 75, 100 and 125 years ago.) 

25 years ago - 1995

The FBI has confirmed for the Union-Eagle that the man fatally shot by authorities after a 6-hour standoff in Grand Rapids on Sept. 27 is thought to be the armed robber of the credit union in Princeton last June 29. The man was Greg John Glynn, 37, an ex-convict who the FBI said last week was also thought to be involved in robberies at financial institutions in Medford, Montgomery and Brainerd this past summer.

This year's deer harvest in the two DNR jurisdictions adjoining Princeton is up 20 to 60 percent over last year. In the DNR area that includes Mille Lacs and Isanti counties, there were 7.171 deer registered, compared to 4,431 in  1994.

Preliminary approval has been given for a $90,000 grant to be used in Princeton to help find jobs for workers recently laid off at Crustal Cabinet Works. The money will be used to help 40 of the 63 workers laid off last month at Crystal.

Zimmerman is the 10th fastest-growing city in Minnesota among cities with a population of at least 1,000, according to the state demographer's office.

Headline: Capital items will be bulk of the city's $329,000 tax increase. The story noted an expenditure of $120,000 for a new front-end loader and a pickup for $16,000 for Public Works, and $63,000 for the police department, including $25,000 for a new squad car.

50 years ago - 1970

When filings for village council closed last week, five names had been placed on the ballot of the Dec. 8 election. Incumbent Ray Redalen filed  for trustee as did newcomers Marvin George, Ken Kelley, Jerry Haskins and Clinton Whitcomb.

About 150 people took a dip in the new high school swimming pool Saturday as it officially opened for the public.

Michael Gibbs will begin practice at the new Princeton Chiropractic office on Dec. 1. The office is located at 606 First Street, the former Mattson Clinic.

The federal Monday holiday law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 1971, and provides for at least five three-day weekends each year.

The Rum River Golf Club will open to televise the Vikings-Chicago Bears football game next Saturday. The club has installed a new rotary antenna and is able to pick up a Duluth TV station.

75 years ago - 1945

Berna Danielson, former sergeant in the WACs, on Oct. 31 received her honorable discharge after service of three years and two months in the armed forces.

Approximately 400 attended the Armistice Day dance at the armory that was sponsored by the American Legion. The net proceeds from the dance, after the tax on tickets has been deducted, are $325.

The great American holiday, Thanksgiving, is here again and never did the citizens of the United States have more reasons for giving devout thanks than in this year of 1945. The second World War has ended. Approximately three million men have been mustered out of the armed forces. This nation is taking a leading role in the United Nations organization established for the purpose of promoting world peace.

The Mille Lacs County attorney received a ruling from the state attorney general that the election on the question of establishing municipal liquor stores in the county on Jan. 7 will be the only election in which people in any village have an opportunity to vote. If the issue is carried it will open the door for the establishment of a liquor store in every village in the county.

100 years ago - 1920

The baby clinic which was held Wednesday of last week under the auspices of Mille Lacs County Public Health might be called a howling success for the day from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., with a short recess at noon. The rooms were filled with mothers and their babies. It was a record-breaking day with 97 children examined by a St. Paul doctor. Miss Giles acted as clinic nurse and a committee from the Civic Betterment Club assisted. 

This Thanksgiving Day should be of unusual significance to the American people. Just 300 years ago our Pilgrim forefathers landed at Plymouth Rock. It was Nov. 9, 1620, that the Mayflower anchored at Cape Cod.

The older residents of Princeton who have watched the development of the Northwestern hospital view that institution with pride. When it opened it could accommodate six or eight patients. There are now 35 beds and an average of 26 are filled each day. An average of 18 operations are performed each week.

125 years ago - 1895

A fire alarm was sounded at 2 o'cock this morning caused by the burning of the Damon House.The house was entirely consumed and much of the furniture belonging to the five families who occupied it was destroyed. Cause unknown.

Deer are reported very scarce, and what few there are are wise beyond their years. 

The Bullis party of deer hunters returned from the lake country Monday devoid of game but rich in experience.

The Great Northern was held up about four miles west of Clear Lake on Nov. 19. The robbers confronted the firemen and the engineer with Winchesters. They were ordered to cut the express car off from the train and with the two robbers on board  it was run west several miles. The robbers tried to open the safes . . . but just east of the state reformatory in St. Cloud they left and disappeared into the wilderness.. They did not get one cent for their trouble.

L.S. Briggs, C. A. Dickey, C. I. Staples, T. F. Scheen and John Peterson went to Milaca Friday evening to help the villagers celebrate the turning on of the electric current. The boys speak highly of the light furnished the village by the company.

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