Week ends in New England with Vikings

October 20, 2005|by TIM ROWLAND


Looks like I picked the wrong week to go to New England. I mean, I've heard of Waterbury, but this was ridiculous.

What did I do to deserve this? It hadn't rained all summer. If someone had bothered to wake up the Washington County Commissioners, who knows how many drought-related housing moratoriums we'd have by now?

True, every time I go north in September or October I'm usually escorted by a hurricane, but those girls usually have the good manners to clear out in a day or two, leaving the rest of the week fine.


So there I was shut indoors all week, the clouds too low for hiking and the rivers too high for fishing. Two novels came and went. And you can only watch so much television. After the 400th rerun of "American Chopper," the plot begins to become predictable, and as for the cable news channels, I found it hard to put credibility into the frantic reports about how the world's population is going to be brought to its knees by chickens.

Pretty soon, I was even sentenced to visit museums and (I am not kidding) a dairy barn in upstate New York where its claim to fame is that it had electricity before the governor's mansion. Then back to the room to watch another dozen episodes of "SportsCenter," where I learned that my beloved Minnesota Vikings had done some Very Naughty Things on a cruise of Lake "Minnetonka" - an Indian word for "What underpants?"

Apparently this was a cruise for players who believed the Love Boat promised more than it delivered, and would set things in their proper place or die.

Having a bad year, head coach Mike Tice told the team to take their off-week and "unwind," but apparently 17 players thought he said "undress."

And all this comes after the departure of wide receiver Randy Moss, who was accused of being a "bad influence." My goodness, what must have been going on before he left? "We're out here on Lake Minnetonka with a couple of boatloads of ladies and everybody's drinking and whooping and nobody has any clothes and the ships' crews want to go home early because our actions are so salacious, but thank goodness Randy isn't here, or things might have gotten out of hand."

Even Randy Moss had lines he wouldn't cross. In retrospect, faux-mooning the Green Bay Packers crowd and running down a meter maid seem to have been kind of quaint in comparison. In fact, before this, the Vikings' high jinks - scalping Super Bowl tickets, getting caught with a Whizzinator to avoid drug tests (never heard of the Whizzinator? Let your imagination run wild and then add 10) - had a 1950's, "boys will be boys" wholesomeness to them.

Of course, none of this was a problem in past years because the Vikings were - what's the word - "winning." But this year, the Vikes are 1-4, so obviously the behavior cannot be tolerated.

I realize to all you garden club ladies who are too busy pruning the hydrangeas to sully yourselves with sports that this seems odd. But it's the way things work. A football team with a winning record is free to club an entire continent of baby seals with little more comment than an uncomfortable cough or two, somewhere in the back.

But if the club that's doing the clubbing is a loser, that's different, and all elements of society will be shoving each other aside for the chance to be first in the "shocked and appalled" soup line.

Track the eerily similar career paths of the Baltimore Orioles' Rafael Palmeiro and the New York Yankees' Jason Giambi, both baseball players, both first basemen, both tainted by the ongoing steroid scandal.

The Baltimore Orioles are a losing team. Palmeiro is disgraced and fails to finish the season with the team.

The New York Yankees are a winning team. Giambi wins "Comeback Player of the Year" award, with salutations all around.

See how the math works? 'Course, Napoleon learned that the hard way. When he lost, he was exiled to an island. When he raised an army in an attempt to reclaim his past position, the newspapers scornfully called him the "Corsican Usurper." But when all of a sudden his army started winning and approached Paris those same newspapers called him the "Exalted Liberator."

So hang in there, Vikes. You're in a weak division. Scratch out eight more wins and you'll all be known as the Pride of Lake Minnetonka.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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