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Dwight Gooden and the ‘82 Mets draft class that turned the team into champs

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Dwight Gooden And The ‘82 Mets Draft Class That Turned The Team Into Champs
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Forty years ago, Mets executives were split over who to take with the fifth overall pick in what turned out to be a remarkable, franchise-altering 1982 draft. Some in the organization wanted Sam Horn, a high-school slugger from San Diego, while others preferred Dwight Gooden, a rocket-armed prep pitcher from Tampa.

Back then, the Mets had their spring training home in St. Petersburg, just across the bay from Tampa, so it was easy to scout Gooden and the Mets “must have had 10 people go see him,” says Joe McIlvaine, the Mets scouting director from 1981-85 and later their GM.

They got perhaps their best look at the state high school All-Star Game in Sebring, two weeks after Gooden’s high school season had finished. Other state stars were there, such as Rafael Palmeiro and Mike Greenwell, and Gooden delivered three dominant innings. “I pretty much stole the show,” Gooden says.

“He was rested and ready and, wow,” McIlvaine recalls. “He blew everyone away.”

It sealed the Mets’ decision. “Guess we made the right choice,” McIlvaine says now, chuckling.

It was the first of many that year. That year, the Mets were so successful at pegging future big leaguers in 1982 that 48% of their picks (14-of-29) eventually reached the Major Leagues. It’s the highest percentage in a single June draft in Mets history, according to data on baseball-reference.com. So far, anyway.

The Mets have reached 25% only four other times. Scouts say if you’re getting 8-10% big leaguers in your draft, you’re doing OK. “The likelihood of reaching MLB if you are drafted, through the whole history of the draft (since 1965), is 13.9%,” says Allan Simpson, the founder of Baseball America, the publication that emphasized draft coverage.

Not all of those 14 picks in ‘82 reached the Majors with the Mets — they took Palmeiro in the eighth round, for instance, but he didn’t sign.

But that draft is one of the most important in Mets’ history, bringing key ‘80s cogs to the Mets — Gooden, Roger McDowell (third round) and Barry Lyons (15th). Their second-round pick, Floyd Youmans, was a vital piece of the Gary Carter trade, which many believe was the finishing flourish for the Mets’ club that won the 1986 World Series.

If the Mets do nearly as well in this year’s MLB Draft, which begins Sunday in Los Angeles, well, look out National League. There certainly is potential for impact, especially near the top, where the Mets pick 11th and 14th in the first round and have two more picks in the second round.

It’ll all be done with fanfare —television coverage, in-person interviews and social media alerts — that did not exist in 1982. In that long-gone era, Gooden and two other Tampa-area prep stars and likely high picks, Rich Monteleone and Lance McCullers Sr., accepted an invitation to follow their baseball fates via newspaper ticker from Tom McEwen of the Tampa Tribune.

“I was supposed to go third out of the three of us,” says Gooden, who had also signed a letter of intent to play at the University of Miami. He was the first of the trio drafted. “We’re watching and we see [Shawon] Dunston go first overall and, a little while later, the Mets picked me. I had Tom McEwen call New York to make sure it was right.

“I was so excited that I couldn’t even drive,” Gooden adds. “My high-school catcher [Eddie Ganzy] had come with me and he had to drive my dad’s car back to my house. When we got there, there was so much media waiting outside, it was like making the big leagues. All the neighbors were watching. They had no idea what was going on.”

At the time, Simpson says, there was some industry surprise that Gooden had been taken that high. “He was known and there was acknowledgment that he’d get into the first round, but that was viewed as an overdraft,” Simpson says.

Gooden eventually signed for an $85,000 bonus, but not before Gooden briefly thought his pro dream was dead. Negotiations stalled and McIlvaine shook Gooden’s hand and said, “Well, sorry we couldn’t get anything done. Good luck in school.”

“I remember my mom blasting my dad and my dad said, ‘He’ll be back,’” Gooden says. “About three days later, my dad said Joe called and we had a deal.”

Gooden, of course, became a phenomenon.

In 1983, his first full pro season, the 18-year-old Gooden struck out 300 batters at Class A Lynchburg. A year later, he was the NL Rookie of the Year. A year after that, he won the 1985 NL Cy Young Award with one of the greatest seasons in pitching history.

Youmans had been Gooden’s teammate at Hillsborough High School until senior year, when Youmans moved to California. When Gooden was a junior, Youmans got in trouble with the high school coach, Gooden says, and Gooden got his rotation spot.

The Mets took him 33rd overall and gave him $62,500 to sign, the highest bonus in the second round, Simpson says.

“His stuff was crazy,” Lyons says of Youmans.

That’s why the Expos wanted Youmans in the Carter deal, along with the already-established Hubie Brooks, a catcher to replace Carter in Mike Fitzgerald and outfield prospect Herm Winningham. “When you can get Gary Carter, there isn’t much you hold back,” McIlvaine says. “All four of those guys played in the big leagues. But Gary Carter helped us win the World Series. That’s what you’re in business for.”

Before the draft, McDowell, a pitcher at Bowling Green, only had contact with the Mets and the Phillies. He had thrown for legendary Philly scout Tony Lucadello, known for signing Fergie Jenkins and Mike Schmidt, and talked to Bob Wellman, the Mets scout who handled the Ohio area. Wellman’s recommendation cinched the Mets’ choice.

“Bob said he’d be a good pitcher and I went with Bob,” McIlvaine says. Bob was right — McDowell became a crucial Mets reliever. He signed for $32,500 and went to Shelby, North Carolina, to the Mets’ franchise in the South Atlantic League. He recalls that nails hammered into two-by-fours stripped across the clubhouse wall served as hangers. The only furniture was old wooden benches. Spare? Yes. Beautiful, too.

“I thought I’d died and gone to heaven,” McDowell says. “This was pro ball, what I wanted to do my whole life.”

He initially slept on a cot in an elderly woman’s house for $5 a week, but became roommates with Lenny Dykstra and John Gibbons after another pitcher, known as “The Creature” — McDowell cannot remember his name — got clobbered in a game and moved out in the middle of the night. Moving in with Dykstra meant that McDowell got lifts to the ballpark in Dykstra’s Porsche Boxster.

“It was the only vehicle we had,” McDowell says. “As the new guy, I got the back. I didn’t get to sit so much as lie down back there.”

Speaking of cars, Gooden made an impression with one when he showed up to Instructional League after the ‘82 season driving a new, tricked-out Trans Am. Both Lyons and McDowell were wowed. “That’s what No. 1 picks do,” McDowell says.

Lyons, a bat-first catcher who played for the Mets from 1986-90 among his seven years in the big leagues, got $500 extra to sign from McIlvaine after telling him he had one final semester of college at Delta State to finish. After agreeing over the phone, Lyons began his drive to Shelby and, along the way, met the scout who noticed him at a fast-food joint off the interstate to sign his contract, which came with a $1,500 bonus.

Eight picks from that Mets draft played at least 253 games in the Majors — Palmeiro (2,831), Gerald Young (640), McDowell (620), Tracy Jones (493), Greg Olson (414), Doug Henry (348), Gooden (318) and Lyons (253).

Palmeiro, then an outfielder from Jackson High in Miami, was plucked in the eighth round, but he really wanted to go to college, McIlvaine says, and Palmeiro and the Mets disagreed on the price to keep him from his commitment to join Will Clark at Mississippi State. In 1985, the Cubs drafted him 22nd overall and he hit 569 career homers.

“We took a chance and why not? It just didn’t work. That happens,” McIlvaine says.

Still, the ‘82 draft remains a whopper amid a string of strong drafts for the Mets. In 1980, they took Darryl Strawberry first overall. Dykstra was a 13th-round pick in 1981. From 1980-84, here are the percentage of Mets draftees who played in MLB: 20%, 21%, 48%, 25% and 17%.

Horn, the other player the Mets considered with their first pick, went 16th to Boston and hit 62 home runs over an eight-year career with four clubs.

“The success of ‘86 is directly attributable to the brilliant drafting they did in the early ‘80s,” Simpson says. “Joe is one of the great scouting directors, ever.”

From 1984-90, the Mets had a .588 winning percentage, won 100 or more games twice and at least 90 four other times. Drafting and development were a part of why. Gooden noted several times during an interview how vital the development wing of the organization was, as well as the club’s scouts, and McDowell talked up how winning teams in the minors helped brew winners for the big club.

“I just wish we could’ve won more than one World Series,” McIlvaine says. “We had the talent to really win for a couple years.”

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Indonesia deaths: 129 dead after fans scramble to leave Indonesian soccer match

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Indonesia Deaths: 129 Dead After Fans Scramble To Leave Indonesian Soccer Match
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MALANG, Indonesia — Panic at an Indonesian soccer match after police fired tear gas to stop the fights left 129 people dead, most trampled to death, police said.

Several fights between fans of the two rival football teams were reported inside the Kanjuruhan Stadium in the city of Malang, East Java Province, after the Indonesian Premier League game ended with Persebaya Surabaya beating Arema Malang 3- 2.

The brawls that erupted just after the match ended late on Saturday prompted riot police to fire tear gas, which caused panic among fans, East Java’s police chief said, Nico Afinta.

Hundreds of people ran to an exit door to avoid tear gas. Some suffocated in the chaos and others were trampled on, killing 34 people almost instantly.

More than 300 people were rushed to nearby hospitals for treatment of their injuries, but many died en route and during treatment, Afinta said.

He said the death toll was likely to continue to rise as the condition of many of the approximately 180 injured victims deteriorated.

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Ian leaves dozens dead as focus shifts to rescue and recovery

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Ian Leaves Dozens Dead As Focus Shifts To Rescue And Recovery
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Rescuers searched for survivors among the ruins of Florida homes flooded by Hurricane Ian as authorities in South Carolina began assessing damage from its strike there as the remnants of one of the hurricanes the most powerful and costly to ever strike the United States continued to push north.

The powerful storm terrorized millions of people for most of the week, battering western Cuba before moving across Florida from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, where it gathered enough strength for a final assault on South Carolina. Now weakened by a post-tropical cyclone, Ian had to cross North Carolina, then Virginia and New York.

At least 31 people have been confirmed dead, including 27 people in Florida, mostly from drowning but others from the storm’s tragic aftermath. An elderly couple died after their oxygen machines shut off due to a power outage, authorities said.

Chris Schnapp was at the Port Sanibel Marina in Fort Myers on Saturday, waiting to see if his 83-year-old mother-in-law had been evacuated from Sanibel Island. A pontoon boat had just arrived with a load of passengers from the island – with suitcases and animals in tow – but Schnapp’s mother-in-law was not among them.

“She stayed on the island. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law own two businesses there. They evacuated. She didn’t want to go, thinking it wasn’t going to be bad,” Schnapp said. But then she learned on Friday evening that her mother-in-law would arrive at the marina: “Now we don’t know if she is still on the island or got on a bus”, and was taken to a shelter, a said Schnapp.

Pawleys Island, South Carolina, a seaside community about 117 kilometers off the coast of Charleston, was among the places hardest hit by Ian, and the power remained out on at least half of the island. Saturday.

Eddie Wilder, who has been coming to Pawleys Island for more than six decades, said Friday’s storm was “incredible to watch”. He said waves up to 7.6 meters high swept away the pier – an iconic landmark – just two doors down from his home.

“We watched it hit the pier and saw the pier disappear,” said Wilder, whose home sits about 30 feet above the ocean and stayed dry inside. “We saw it go down and saw it float with an American flag still waving.”

Pawleys Pier was one of at least four along the South Carolina coast to be destroyed by Ian’s winds and rain. Portions of the pier, including pylons covered in barnacles, littered the beach. The intra-coastal waterway was littered with the remains of several boathouses torn and knocked off their stilts in the storm.

Traffic was halted to the southernmost point of Pawleys Island, where crews were working to clear roads of sand and other debris that authorities say was piled at least a foot high . The sand will then be redistributed to rebuild the dunes along the seafront, as happened after a similar washout in 2019.

Many raised beach houses still had feet of sand underneath, with dunes completely covered and nearly flattened.

John Joseph, whose father built the family’s beige beach house in 1962, said on Saturday he was delighted to return from Georgetown – which was directly affected – to find his Pawleys Island home fully intact.

“Thank goodness those walls are still there, and we feel very lucky that this is the worst thing,” he said of the sand swept under his house. “What happened in Florida – my God, God bless us. If we had a Category 4, I wouldn’t be here.

In North Carolina, the storm appears to have mostly downed trees and power lines, leaving more than 280,000 people across the state without power late Saturday morning, according to state officials.

At least one storm-related death has been reported in Johnston County, outside of Raleigh. A woman found her husband dead Saturday morning after he went to check on a generator in their garage overnight, said sheriff’s office Capt. Jeff Caldwell.

Winds from the storm were much weaker on Friday than when Ian landed on Florida’s Gulf Coast earlier in the week. Authorities and volunteers on site were still assessing the damage as shocked residents tried to make sense of what they had just experienced.

Anthony Rivera, 25, said he had to climb out the window of his first-floor Fort Myers apartment during the storm to carry his grandmother and girlfriend to the second floor. As they rushed to escape the rising waters, the storm surge swept away a boat right next to his apartment.

“It’s the scariest thing in the world because I can’t stop any boat,” he said. “I am not Superman.”

On Friday, other distraught residents waded through knee-deep water, salvaging what they could from their flooded homes and loading them onto rafts and canoes.

“I want to sit in the corner and cry. I don’t know what else to do,” Stevie Scuderi said after walking through her largely destroyed Fort Myers apartment, the mud in her kitchen clinging to her purple sandals. .

On Saturday, a long line of people waited outside an O’Reilly auto parts store in Port Charlotte, where a sign read, “We have generators now.” Hundreds of cars lined up outside a gas station in Wawa, and some people walked, carrying cans of gas to their nearby cars.

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How high prices could impact reconstruction costs after Hurricane Ian

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How High Prices Could Impact Reconstruction Costs After Hurricane Ian
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If there’s any consolation for Hurricane Ian survivors, it’s that the rising cost of building materials has begun to slow — and in some cases even reverse.

Thanks to a global economic downturn, what seemed like a relentless rise in material prices over the past two years had begun to fade as Ian hit Southwest Florida on Wednesday in the form of a category 4 storm.

The price of timber, which surged during the Covid-19 pandemic and peaked in January, has returned to pre-pandemic levels, data from CME Group, a global markets firm, shows. This is partly due to a marked slowdown in construction as mortgage rates and house prices rise.

Meanwhile, global shipping bottlenecks have eased, containers available and reducing the cost of freight. Data from the Drewry Index, a global shipping tracking company, shows costs have fallen for 31 straight weeks and are down 61% in the past 12 months.

“You won’t have to spend so much on flooring or kitchen supplies – right now [prices] are falling apart as we speak,” said Michelangelo Cocchiola, co-owner of Imeca Lumber & Hardware in Florida. “If the hurricane had hit two or three months earlier, it would have been much worse than now. .”

National demand for homes has stalled, said Brendan Lowney, director of Forest Economic Advisors, a firm that studies construction costs. The price spike also pushed producers of key commodities like lumber to expand production capacity, which helped cool those price gains, Lowney said.

In addition to lumber, prices of other key home building products like PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and copper are also reversing, according to market data.

The cost of materials “has come down significantly,” Lowney said.

But they are still high. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this month that prices for building materials have climbed 4.9% year-to-date and are up 14.3% over the past year.

The sheer scale of the rebuilding to be done could also lead to higher demand and prices from here. According to property information group CoreLogic, early estimates suggest Hurricane Ian will prove the costliest storm in Florida since Hurricane Andrew hit the state in 1992, with a record number of homes and lost properties.

“Hurricane Ian will forever change the real estate industry and the city’s infrastructure,” said Tom Larsen, CoreLogic associate vice president of hazard and risk management. “Insurers will go bankrupt, homeowners will be forced into delinquency, and insurance will become less accessible in places like Florida.”

Hurricane Ian victims and disaster responders are likely to face other rising costs amid an annual headline inflation rate that continues to hover above 8%.

Food price increases continue to reach multi-decade highs. Stephanie Ink-Edwards, CEO of Community Cooperative, an organization that fights hunger and homelessness in Lee County, said among the losses suffered by Ian’s victims is the lack of perishables.. She said food costs were already triple what they were last year in some cases, even before the storm hit.

“The outflow of people in need who we need to serve is now much higher, but the cost of supply is also higher, so we are feeling the pinch on both sides,” she said.

And while gasoline prices have fallen from their summer highs, with a Florida gas tax holiday scheduled for Oct. 1, they remain well above their levels of a year ago. year. On Friday, the average price for regular unleaded gasoline in Florida was $3.39, according to AAA. That’s about $0.33 more than last September.

This week, Costco executives warned they are seeing higher wages at suppliers — costs that will ultimately be passed on to consumers, in some cases.

“Salaries are always the culprit,” said chief financial officer Richard Galanti, adding: “We’ll try to get them off the ground, but I’m sure some of them will stay and some won’t.”

Experts say it will also likely be more difficult – and more expensive – to find skilled labor to help with the rebuilding process. While the global economic downturn may dampen the cost of materials, Florida remains in the midst of a construction boom, said Rusty Payton, CEO of the Florida Homebuilders Association.

“They already have a lot of projects to do,” Payton said. “You’re not going to see a massive migration of people” to southwest Florida.

Lowney predicted that labor costs could rise in the short term as construction contractors ration their services.

“In other words, they will raise their rates as high as the market will support it,” he said.

On the other hand, with demand for jobs in Florida at an all-time high, those displaced from their occupations by the storm are likely to find work faster than in other post-disaster times, said Lowney.

“It will be less stressful if people don’t have to worry about being unemployed,” Lowney said.

At least one local state official estimated Thursday that it would take a decade to rebuild the areas hardest hit by the storm.

“It’s more like Katrina than the Florida storms we know,” State Rep. Spencer Roach, who lost his home in the storm, told FloridaPolitics.com. “There’s a different level of devastation and recovery, and it’s going to affect a lot of people.”

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Wild’s Jesper Wallstedt patiently waits for his turn in net

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Wild’s Jesper Wallstedt Patiently Waits For His Turn In Net
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Jesper Wallstedt is undoubtedly the goaltender of the future for the Wild. Even if he doesn’t want to acknowledge it.

“I’m just trying to focus on me right now,” Wallstedt said earlier this week before going out and posting 33 saves in an exhibition win over the Dallas Stars.

The lofty expectations are understandable considering Wallstedt was the No. 20 overall pick in the 2021 draft. His massive 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame makes him an imposing force between the pipes as does his stellar skill set.

Still, the Wild have no plans to rush Wallstedt’s development. He will play this season for the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League, and there’s no indication that he will sniff the NHL at any point.

Not with the legendary Marc-Andre Fleury as the unquestioned starter for the Wild this season.

Asked about Fleury’s guidance through training camp to this point, Wallstedt sang his praises.

“He has been great,” Wallstedt said. “He’s been very easy to talk to. I’ve had a lot of questions, and he’s given me some great answers to things I’ve needed to ask.”

All the while, Wallstedt has been a sponge trying soak up as much knowledge as possible.

“Just keep my ears open,” Wallstedt said. “You learn a lot of things around him.”

The biggest thing Wallstedt is trying to adjust to right now is the North American rink. He’s used to playing on a bigger sheet of ice in Sweden and has already gotten beaten a few times because of the different angles.

“I think it’s going to come pretty fast,” Wallstedt said. “Just adjusting to it and being here on a daily basis or back in Iowa if I get sent down there. Just playing on the smaller ice on a daily basis is going to help me adjust faster. Then in no time it’s going to be the new normal for me. I’m looking forward to that.”

It’s only a matter of time before Wallstedt gets sent to the minors for further seasoning. Until then, he’s enjoying his time in the Twin Cities.

“It’s been great,” Wallstedt said. “All the guys here have been very nice to me and good to me. It’s been very easy to be in this group, because they’ve been very open and taken good care of us.”

It has helped that the Twin Cities has reminded Wallstedt of his native Sweden.

“It feels like home in some ways,” Wallstedt said. “That’s been very nice. All the people here are very hockey interested. You go around and be in restaurant, and I’ve been recognized a couple of times. I’m not used to that back home. That’s been very fun. It’s been great. I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to trying to see more things around here.”

It’s safe to say Wallstedt will get quite familiar with the Twin Cities in the future. In the meantime, though, he’s focused on getting better each and every day.

“I know it’s going to be a long way if I expect things to happen,” Wallstedt said. “You’ve got to work for it and earn it. The opportunities are going to come. You’ve got to work for it to come. I’m just trying to stay here and now and focus on every day and kind of take it day by day and see where it leads.”

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As rookie season winds down, Twins’ Jose Miranda makes plans for improvement in offseason

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As Rookie Season Winds Down, Twins’ Jose Miranda Makes Plans For Improvement In Offseason
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DETROIT — The details haven’t been fully ironed out yet, but at some point this offseason, Jose Miranda is planning on traveling from his home in Puerto Rico to Carlos Correa’s home in Houston to spend a week with the shortstop.

Correa, it turns out, didn’t leave him with much of a choice in the matter.

“He was like, ‘Hey, you’ve got no options. You’re going to Houston,’ ” Miranda said of Correa.

Not that he’s complaining about that.

“I feel like it’s a great opportunity to get better, and obviously I’ve got to take advantage of it,” Miranda said.

As he heads into what will be his first offseason as a major leaguer, the infielder has many things he’s planning on focusing on as he works toward improvement: He wants to get faster. He wants to get in better shape, focusing in on his nutrition. And he wants to work on his agility.

His work with Correa will have a heavy focus on improving his defense — Miranda has spent his rookie season both at third base, his natural position, and at first, a new spot for him.

“(I) want to work with him on some defensive drills,” Correa said. “I feel like he can be a four, five, six WAR (Wins Above Replacement) player if his defense matches his offense. He will be one of the best players in the league if he can master that. I just want the best for him.”

Correa’s offseason days usually start around 9 a.m. He’s home by 1:30 p.m. after going to the gym, eating, spending time in the batting cage and taking some ground balls. He repeats this routine five days a week.

In welcoming Miranda to town to shadow him, he hopes to show him exactly what type of work goes into sustaining success at the major league level.

“I told him, ‘Come for a week. Stay at my house. We’re going to work out together. We’re going to diet together. We’re going to do everything I do in an offseason so you can see how I do it and how (Jose) Altuve does and how (Justin) Verlander does it and guys that I know,” Correa said. “I just want him to see that firsthand and show up next year ready.”

Miranda, 24, is near ready to conclude a rookie season that began in early May. After taking a month to adapt to the major league level, he has turned into one of the most productive hitters in the Twins’ lineup. Miranda entered Saturday’s game hitting .272 with 15 home runs and a team-leading 66 runs batted in. His .759 OPS was fifth on the team, and his 117 OPS+ is 17 percent better than league average.

In addition to wanting to get quicker, which he mentioned multiple times, Miranda said he wanted to challenge himself to take more walks next year. He headed into Saturday’s game having drawn 27 walks in 120 games.

“I was hoping it was going to be a good season,” he said. “I was hoping to have some good numbers. So far, I think it’s been a decent one, a good one. But obviously, I want to get better at more things, and I want to improve for next year.”

FULMER RETURNS

Michael Fulmer couldn’t help but notice a trip to Comerica Park on the Twins’ schedule after he was traded. The reliever debuted as a Tiger in 2016 and played in Detroit up until the trade deadline this season, when he was dealt for a prospect.

Friday, the Tigers honored him with a pregame video, after which he tipped his hat to the crowd.

“They did an awesome job with it,” Fulmer said. “I’m grateful that they took the time out of their day to come up with a video like that. Obviously the crowd, it was special. …I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for me over my seven years here.”

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Gophers coach P.J. Fleck on early fourth-down decision: ‘I would do it again’

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Gophers Coach P.j. Fleck On Early Fourth-Down Decision: ‘I Would Do It Again’
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Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck made a puzzling decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 from inside his team’s own 30-yard line during the first quarter against Purdue on Saturday at Huntington Bank Stadium.

Minnesota had run the ball five times for five total yards and had the ball at its own 29-yard line. Trailing 7-0, the U went to its wildcat package for the first time this season. Quarterback Cole Kramer did not find a hole and was stuffed for no gain.

With great field position, Purdue tacked on a 42-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead en route to a 20-10 win during the U’s Homecoming. Those three points looked as if they would decide the game until Purdue was able to tack on the late touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.

“Felt like we needed to do something,” Fleck explained. “It only cost us three points, but it was worth it. I would do it again. We got to be able to get fourth-and-1.”

Fleck said he was OK with the play call using one of their short-yardage packages.

“We do that in spring ball and trust the people that are going to be able to do it and trust the call,” Fleck added. “We didn’t execute. We got blown back. It didn’t matter what call we were going to call there.”

Fleck said he was looking for a spark. The U went three-and-out on the opening drive, and Tanner Morgan had a tipped pass intercepted on the second series.

“We got to get something moving,” Fleck said. “You can’t sit there and say, ‘If you backtrack now, in hindsight, should you have done that?’ You don’t know the game is going to go that way.”

Fleck said his rationale was: If the Gophers don’t convert on fourth down, they would have to hold Purdue to a field goal.

“Is that worth it?,” Fleck added. “And I said ‘yes.’ ”

NO SIGNS

Fleck said there were no indicators this week to tip off the Gophers’ slow slow on Saturday.

“Not at all,” he said. “They had a tremendous practice on Tuesday, really good practice on Wednesday. You can always dissect something. Ah, there’s the reason. No.”

Morgan went to his offense during the first quarter and told them they were not playing hard enough, according to KFXN-FM. Morgan then connected with Daniel Jackson for a 66-yard completion, but Matthew Trickett missed a 28-yard field goal.

“We just didn’t execute,” Fleck said.

BRIEFLY

Fleck fell to 2-19 when trailing at the half. He was 0-17 until he beat Purdue last October. The Gophers also came back to beat Wisconsin last November. … Gophers defensive players Terell Smith, Braelen Oliver, Jah Joyner and guard Chuck Filliaga were three additional players spotted Saturday dealing with injuries. … Quintin Redding had a 20-yard punt return to set up the U’s third-quarter touchdown. He had a 64-yard punt return in the fourth quarter called back due to a holding call on Derik LeCaptain. … Trickett was 5 for 5 on field goals this season before his short-distance miss in the second quarter. He later connected from 45 yards out, just before the half. … The U announced an attendance of 48,288 for its “stripe out” Saturday.

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