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Bailey Ober, Twins spoil homecoming for José Berríos

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Bailey Ober, Twins spoil homecoming for José Berríos

José Berríos’ homecoming started with a tribute on the videoboard and a large ovation from the Target Field crowd on Thursday. It’ll conclude with catered food for himself and his teammates on Sunday from a favorite local restaurant.

But amid a nice welcome back to the Twin Cities, Berríos’ former teammates denied him what he was looking for on Friday night: a win.

He can thank rookie Bailey Ober in large part for that. Ober threw 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball in the Twins’ 3-1 win over the Blue Jays on Friday night at Target Field, sending the former Twins ace to the loss despite his own quality start.

“It’s pretty awesome to pitch on the same day as him when we were teammates just a couple months ago,” Ober said. “It’s pretty special going against a guy like that with his character and his stuff, his baseball IQ. It was an honor to go against him.”

While Berríos is an important part of the Twins’ recent past, Ober figures to be an important part of their near future, and Friday’s outing was another example why.

Ober held a potent Blue Jays offense — one which he faced just last weekend — to just four hits. The one run Toronto (85-69) scored came in the sixth on Marcus Semien’s 42nd home run of the season. Semien was the last batter Ober faced before the Twins (69-85) turned it over to the bullpen, which did not allow a hit the remainder of the game.

A stingy effort by relievers Jorge Alcala, Juan Minaya, Tyler Duffey and Alexander Colomé helped the Twins to their fourth straight victory.

“It’s hard to put into words just how dangerous this lineup is that we’re facing,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “In a heartbeat, the game can go from having a lead to being well behind if you do not go out there and execute a good, well-thought-out plan and make good pitches, but our guys made good pitches from beginning to end. There were very few mistakes.”

There were few mistakes on Berrios’ end, but there were just enough for the Twins to capitalize on.

Berrios walked Andrelton Simmons to lead off the sixth inning. Luis Arraez followed, tripling him home for the first run of the game. And then, Berríos’ longtime teammate Byron Buxton — both were drafted in 2012 — hit a two-run home run that disappeared over the center-field wall to give the Twins a three-run lead.

“I felt really good tonight. Obviously in that third inning, I walked a guy. That’s our enemy always, when you walk some guy,” Berríos said. “No matter how, they’re going to score, so that’s what happen. And then that homer, I left a pitch right in the middle with Buck, but other than that, I feel good how I throw the ball … tonight.”

While Berríos said it felt different pitching at Target Field against the Twins — he beat the Twins on Sunday at Rogers Centre — he said it was “amazing” competing against the team that gave him an opportunity to be a big leaguer.

Well, amazing besides the loss.

Though Berríos finished out six strong innings, striking out 10, that three-run inning was just enough to spoil the on-field part of Berrios’ homecoming.

“José took the ball on their end. He was very sharp. His stuff was electric. He pitched very, very well,” Baldelli said. “Our guys just pitched better today, and that’s really all it came down to.”

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Keeler: Move over, Vic Fangio. Colorado State’s Steve Addazio is the worst clock-manager in town. And he just joined you on the hot seat.

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WATCH: CSU botches last-minute field goal attempt against Utah State

For a second there, you almost felt sorry for Steve Addazio. A little. At least until he started throwing his own players under the bus, one by one.

“I would say to you is they got caught up in the emotion of the game and took off on the field,” the CSU football coach said of the insanity that made up the final 11 seconds of Utah State 26, Rams 24. “I’m like, ‘Who sent them on?’

“And no one sent them on. So, it just happened. Which means that it’s my responsibility, because that can’t happen.”

Oh, but it did. Dazfoonery. Absolute insanity. A clown show in cleats.

Spike the ball!

Spike it! What are you do …

In a sequence they’ll be talking about for years, probably with calliope music playing in the background, the Rams had bravely and methodically driven the ball downfield, trailing by two.

Quarterback Todd Centeio, with no timeouts, had Elwayed CSU to the Aggies’ 24-yard line with half a minute on the clock.

Then all heck broke loose.

Or rather, the Rams’ field-goal unit broke loose.

With 11 seconds left, instead of spiking the ball or throwing a prayer to Trey McBride or Dante Wright, the CSU sideline turned into Piccadilly Circus. The offense, while still on the field, expecting a spike to stop the clock, saw their special-teams compatriots racing to the line of scrimmage, shooing them off.

Chaos ensued. CSU kicker Cayden Camper rushed onto the spot and rushed a 42-yard attempt with a second remaining on the scoreboard. It sailed wide left, and the stunned Homecoming crowd at Maverik Stadium erupted at their fortune.

“Having said that, we were perfectly set up and ready to kick the field goal,” Addazio continued. “I don’t believe that had any impact on that field goal whatsoever.”

Vic Fangio, you owe this man a beer. Or six.

Fangio, the besieged Broncos coach, uses timeouts in crunch time the way a toddler uses a plate of spaghetti. But compared to Addazio, Uncle Vic is the second coming of Bill Walsh.

They’re also both so in over their heads as head coaches here, it’s pitiful. In some alternate universe right now, Fangio is serving as Urban Meyer’s defensive coordinator. Addazio is coaching Urban’s offensive line.

Alas, we’re all stuck with this reality. And it bites.

“I could tell that they were obviously disorganized,” Utah State coach Blake Anderson told the CBS Sports Network immediately after the tilt. “It just didn’t look organized.”

The kicker to the kicker? Anderson admitted that he was going to call a timeout to try and ice Camper.

Instead, the Rams iced their own guy for him.

Spike the ball!

Spike it! What are you do …

“It’s frustrating,” said McBride, the tight end whose six receptions, along with tailback David Bailey’s 159 rushing yards, went for naught. “It’s heartbreaking.”

Especially given the stakes. Inside track within the Mountain West’s Mountain division. A 3-0 start to league play. More than halfway home to bowl eligibility.

What we got was an evening marred by the hallmarks of poor coaching, from preparation to execution: Painful, silly CSU penalties — nine in all, at least six of them on offsides calls — and ever sillier mental mistakes.

CSU sacked Aggies quarterback Logan Bonner eight times. The power and leverage advantages along the line of scrimmage were palpable. The bigger, badder Rams (3-4, 2-1 Mountain West) would win a slugfest with Utah State  (5-2, 3-1) 11 times out of 10.

But the Aggies weren’t interested in a stand-up brawl — Anderson wanted to duck and weave, to rope and to dope, and tire the heavyweight Rams into doing something dumb.

Team Daz, sadly, obliged. Repeatedly.

And we can’t say the Boston College faithful didn’t warn us: Since 2013, Addazio-coached teams are 9-18 in games decided by six points or fewer. Since 2018, they’re 0-6.

With Boise State (3-4) at home up next, a wounded franchise that CSU hasn’t beaten in 10 tries, followed by Wyoming (4-2) on the road and Air Force (6-1) at home, those aren’t exactly the kind of stats that inspire confidence along the Poudre.

Nor, frankly, did Friday. The Rams were having so much fun leading with their fists that they forgot, too often, to use their heads.

Four first-half penalties and two turnovers early gave the smaller, quicker and pass-happy Aggies seven first-half possessions to CSU’s six. And two of those came in the final five minutes of the second quarter thanks to the Aggies’ special teams. USU kicked a field goal, then lobbed the ensuing kickoff into a gap within the Rams’ return unit, recovering the rock at the CSU 24.

And because the Daz chose to sit on his timeouts at the end of the half rather than stop the clock on USU’s stunning post-kickoff possession, the Aggies got the ball three different times between the final six minutes of the second quarter and the first five minutes of the third quarter — while the Rams had it only once.

Guess what Daz did with that possession? He took a knee to run off the final 25 seconds of the first half. The hosts, meanwhile, turned those extra cracks with the pigskin into nine points, ducking and jabbing their way to a 23-14 lead that forced the Rams into catch-up mode.

“I don’t know, I don’t know,” Addazio said after the game about his thinking, or lack thereof, during that mid-game juncture.

“I just (felt) like we had too many penalties in the first half, we turned the ball over twice …”

Defense and a run game travel well on the road. Stubbornness and stupidity, however, do not. And never will.

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A refreshed Casa Bonita could accelerate redevelopment along West Colfax corridor

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A refreshed Casa Bonita could accelerate redevelopment along West Colfax corridor

Casa Bonita’s relaunch under new ownership won’t necessarily trigger a revival along the West Colfax corridor, but it could speed up one already underway and if done right, provide a model on how to both refresh and preserve an iconic tourist draw.

The Mexican restaurant with real cliff divers, faux shootouts and so-so food has served as a draw for generations of families ever since it opened in 1974 in a shuttered JCPenney’s store in a suburban strip mall sandwiched between Kendall and Pierce streets along West Colfax Avenue.

The restaurant shut its doors early in the pandemic and owner Summit Family Restaurants sought bankruptcy protection in April. But last month Summit finalized a sales agreement with a group headed by Colorado natives and “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

“While retail has had its challenges over the years, the ‘South Park’ creators’ rumored grand vision for Casa Bonita’s future could be a boon for local commercial and residential real estate in the West Colfax area. If anything, Trey and Matt’s purchase may serve as a model for preserving history throughout West Colfax,” said Philip Kranefuss, head of Colorado real estate for the brokerage firm Homie.

Parker and Stone made the restaurant legendary among their global fan base when they featured it in a 2003 episode of their animated series and they have continued to highlight it over the years.

Kranefuss said the restaurant is a Denver-area institution and a rite of passage for local children that could see its draw as a tourist attraction expand to the legions of “South Park” fans. Its preservation and continuation are not only a big deal for the nearby neighborhood but also the larger metro area.

He expects the neighborhood will look much different 10 years from now, and that Casa Bonita will be part of that transformation.

“We are very enthusiastic about what is happening with Casa Bonita. Anything that reactivates the restaurant is a good thing for us,” adds William Marino, board chair of the 40 West Arts District. “Good things are happening on West Colfax. There is real momentum and we need it to continue.”

The arts district, established in 2011, has purchased a building in the parking lot next to Casa Bonita that once housed a Denver Drumstick Restaurant. The once-popular eatery, known for a model train that ran around the restaurant, has sat vacant for about 20 years, a symbol of the larger decline the neighborhood was suffering, Marino said.

One goal of buying the building is to provide permanent gallery space for area artists so they don’t get priced out as the neighborhood stages its comeback, avoiding a pattern seen in some of Denver’s one-time artist havens, Marino said.

Lamar Station Plaza, the strip mall that houses Casa Bonita with its distinctive pink stucco bell tower, saw its revitalization start when Broad Street Realty acquired the dilapidated JCRS shopping center in 2014 for $8 million. In the late 1800s, the Jewish Consumptive Relief Society or JCRS treated tuberculosis patients on that site.

The shopping center, once limping along with a 30% vacancy rate, now houses a Planet Fitness and a Dutch Brothers, but also discount retailers and thrift stores catering to the area population.

“It is really about the redevelopment of commercial spaces. The general idea is to hold onto the funkiness of Colfax and the positive energy that comes with it,” said Robert Smith, Lakewood’s economic development director.

Lakewood has a total of 91 commercial and residential projects recently completed or underway, according to a development map the city maintains. Of that total, 38 were completed last year, 17 wrapped up this year and 15 residential projects and 12 commercial projects are currently underway.

Many of those projects are concentrated in the north end of the city, between the W light rail line and the Colfax corridor, which at one time served as the major connecting throughway for travelers driving between the Midwest and California and was filled with motels and eateries.

Once the wider and faster Interstate 70 to the north became the main highway, Colfax started to see more used car dealerships and pawnshops and vacant buildings.

Part of the challenge of redeveloping the area is that it was designed with setbacks and parking lots to accommodate a car culture. But the preference now is for denser and more walkable neighborhoods with amenities nearby.

“The West Colfax corridor is undergoing a renaissance,” Smith said, adding that the “South Park” purchase, which is awaiting approval in bankruptcy court, has done great things for marketing Casa Bonita. “Part of the value of that restaurant is that it has such a storied history. All parties involved want to maintain that legacy, augment and enhance it.”

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Big picture, big data: Switzerland unveils virtual reality software of universe

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Big picture, big data: Switzerland unveils virtual reality software of universe

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND — The final frontier has rarely seemed closer than this — at least virtually.

Researchers at one of Switzerland’s top universities released open-source beta software this month that allows for virtual visits through the cosmos including up to the International Space Station, past the Moon, Saturn or exoplanets, over galaxies and well beyond.

The program — called Virtual Reality Universe Project, or VIRUP — pulls together what the researchers call the largest data set of the universe to create three-dimensional, panoramic visualizations of space.

Software engineers, astrophysicists and experimental museology experts at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, or EPFL, have come together to concoct the virtual map that can be viewed through individual VR gear, immersion systems like panoramic cinema with 3-D glasses, planetarium-like dome screens, or just on a PC for two-dimensional viewing.

“The novelty of this project was putting all the data set available into one framework, when you can see the universe at different scales — nearby us, around the Earth, around the solar system, at the Milky Way level, to see through the universe and time up to the beginning — what we call the Big Bang,” said Jean-Paul Kneib, director of EPFL’s astrophysics lab.

Think a sort of Google Earth — but for the universe. Computer algorithms churn up terabytes of data and produce images that can appear as close as three feet, or almost infinitely far away — as if you sit back and look at the entire observable universe.

VIRUP is accessible to everyone for free — though it does require at least a computer and is best visualized with VR equipment or 3-D capabilities. It aims to draw in a broad array of visitors, both scientists looking to visualize the data they continue to collect and a broad public seeking to explore the heavens virtually.

Still a work in progress, for now, the beta version can’t be run on a Mac computer. Downloading the software and content might seem onerous for the least-skilled computer users, and space — on a computer — will count. The broader-public version of the content is a reduced-size version that can be quantified in gigabytes, a sort of best-of highlights. Astronomy buffs with more PC memory might choose to download more.

The project assembles information from eight databases that count at least 4,500 known exoplanets, tens of millions of galaxies, hundreds of millions of space objects in all, and more than 1.5 billion light sources from the Milky Way alone. But when it comes to potential data, the sky is literally the limit: Future databases could include asteroids in our solar system or objects like nebulae and pulsars farther into the galaxy.

To be sure, VR games and representations already exist: Cosmos-gazing apps on tablets allow for mapping of the night sky, with zoom-in close-ups of heavenly bodies; software like SpaceEngine from Russia offers universe visuals; NASA has done some smaller VR scopes of space.

But the EPFL team says VIRUP goes much farther and wider: Data pulled from sources like the Sloan Digital Sky Survey in the United States, and European Space Agency’s Gaia mission to map the Milky Way and its Planck mission to observe the first light of the universe, all brought together in a one-stop-shop for the most extensive data sets yet around.

And there’s more to come: when the 14-country telescope project known as the Square Kilometer Array starts pulling down information, the data could be counted in the petabytes — that’s 1,000 terabytes or 1 million gigabytes.

Strap on the VR goggles, and it’s a trippy feeling seeing the Moon — seemingly the size of a giant beach ball and floating close enough to hold — as the horizon rotates from the sunny side to the dark side of the lunar surface.

Then speed out to beyond the solar system and swing by Saturn, then up above the Milky Way, swirling and flashing and heaving — with exoplanets highlighted in red. And much farther out still, imagine floating through small dots of light that represent galaxies as if the viewer is an unconscionably large giant floating in space.

“That is a very efficient way of visiting all the different scales that compose our universe, and that is completely unique,” said Yves Revaz, an EPFL astrophysicist. “A very important part of this project is that it’s a first step toward treating much larger data sets which are coming.”

Entire galaxies seem to be strung together by strands or filaments of light, almost like representation of neural connections, that link up clusters of light like galaxies. For one of the biggest pictures of all, there’s a colorful visualization of the Cosmic Microwave Background — the radiation left behind from the Big Bang.

“We actually started this project because I was working on a three-dimensional mapping project of the universe and was always a little frustrated with the 2-D visualization on my screen, which wasn’t very meaningful,” said Kneib, in a nondescript lab building that houses a panoramic screen, a half-dome cinema with bean-bag seating, and a hard-floor space for virtual-reality excursions.

“It’s true that by showing the universe in 3-D, by showing these filaments, by showing these clusters of galaxies which are large concentrations of matter, you really realize what the universe is,” he added.

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