Tony Gwynn: Great hitter, better person

I was roughly two hours into a 12-hour drive from Minnesota to Oklahoma Monday when I heard the news Tony Gwynn died at age 54 after a courageous multi-year battle with salivary gland cancer. For safety reasons, I pulled off the road to collect myself, confirm it was true and commiserate with friends and family.

Down on Farm: St. Paul Puts on a Show

The St. Paul Saints predate their big-time friends across America’s chief river by nearly a century. This is actually the fourth incarnation of the franchise, beginning briefly during the Benjamin Harrison administration, then returning a decade later through 1899, followed by a 1915-60 run, ending just before the Washington Senators became the Minnesota Twins.

Down on the Farm: Anchors Away

The fourth season of Down on the Farm continues with a trip to Knute Nelson Memorial Park in Alexandria, Minnesota.

Down on the Farm: Stingers Reward Supporters

As a resident for nearly a year now, I realize Minnesota is a hockey state. However, baseball is surprisingly well-funded across the Land of 10,000 Lakes too. This is particularly validated when traveling back roads through small Minnesota communities that seem to encompass one hidden gem of a ballpark after another. Considering the harsh winters, the immaculate conditions of fields by May is also rather impressive.

Don Zimmer: 1931-2014

A baseball icon died Wednesday night, as Don Zimmer, passed away at Day Care Alliance Hospital in Dunedin, Florida, where he’d been for roughly six weeks after undergoing heart valve surgery. A true lifer, who enjoyed every moment from age 18 through a remarkable 66 seasons in the professional game, Zimmer was most recently senior adviser for the Tampa Bay Rays.

2014 NBA Finals: Is Heat-Spurs redux good for NBA fans?

I’ve watched precious little of the 2014 NBA playoffs, and I ignored the long regular season, but I’ll likely watch most of the NBA Finals — whenever it finally begins after yet another long lay off — because the two best teams will again do battle. Knowing this type of clash occurs most years though, why should fans watch an often formulaic and endless six weeks of playoffs when most can predict the championship participants by mid-April or earlier?

Down On the Farm, Season 4: A Birmingham Beauty

As a historically-cold Midwest winter finally wraps up near Memorial Day, we headed down south to kick off our 2014 campaign in Birmingham, Alabama. The state’s largest city opened a stellar new downtown ballpark in 2013 to replace suburban 25-year-old Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.

Opening Day Brings Hope

Though raised in a southern climate, I’ve now lived nine winters in the Heartland. And I’ve learned nothing begins seasonal life anew like baseball.

Duke and Syracuse’s Worst March Madness Losses

Duke and Syracuse both crashed out of the 2014 NCAA Tournament early. But that shouldn’t be surprising. Here is a look at both teams’ worst March Madness losses.

The Shockers Got Screwed

The 35-0 Wichita State Shockers were screwed by the Selection Committee and the media. And there’s really no debate. Let’s quickly examine the evidence …

College Basketball Coach of the Year: The Final Five Candidates and Reader Poll

Who is college basketball’s Coach of the Year for the 2013-14 season? Vote in our poll.

Annual Duke Coup Underway?

With another loss by a rapidly-fading Syracuse team, along with Kansas and Creighton falling Saturday on the road, Duke backed into a No.1 seed today in some bracket projections. The Blue Devils also somehow soared to No. 4 today in the new Top 25 poll, though they remain eighth in RPI.

Hope Springs Eternal in El Paso

El Paso finally has a minor league baseball team as the San Diego Padres have moved their Triple-A affiliate to town.

The 10 Best NFL Conference Championship Games

Media pundits muse that Sunday’s NFL conference title games are the best matchups we’ve seen in years. Since a good set up doesn’t necessarily guarantee an exciting game, let’s look at past championship games that actually lived up to the hype.

Jerry Coleman: Legendary San Diego Padres announcer passes away at 89

It was a certainly a bittersweet Sunday in San Diego. Hours after the Chargers secured an impressive playoff victory in Cincinnati, and moments after the city’s top 20 college basketball team became the first non-Big 12 school to win in Lawrence, Kan., since 2006, San Diego lost perhaps its most legendary sports icon not named Tony Gwynn.