The Music Ramble is the weekly sports blog of Erik Ritland. The St. Paul, Minnesota journalist and musician is the founder of Rambling On. Learn more about us on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, or our website.
Some words on Flip Saunders, Torii Hunter, and Jerry Kill.
I met Flip Saunders a couple times in the mid-2000s. I worked the Dance Team tournament at the Xcel Energy Center and he was always there to see his daughter (even though I think he was coaching in Detroit at the time). He was genuinely nice and took time to talk to me and my co-workers.
I felt like I got to know him best, though, listening to his appearances on local sports talk station KFAN. He had a warmth and candor that you don't see with many coaches and GMs, whether he was doing his regular spot on Dan Barreiro's show or cold calling Paul Allen or Dan Cole when they were talking about the Wolves. Even when he had to spin or talk in circles, as his job(s) sometimes demanded, he was still entertaining.
If you have time, listen to the podcasts of Dan Barreiro or Paul Allen's shows from Monday this week. They are both touching tributes from a couple people very close to Flip. At the very least read Barreiro's tribute and listen to his opening segment from Monday.
I don't need to go over all of Flip's accomplishments. He has been the foundation for Minnesota basketball since he played for the Gophers the '70s. What was most extraordinary about him, and what he'll be remembered most for, are his love for his family and friends and his authenticity. There is no better legacy.
So long, Torii
Torii Hunter was the face of the Twins at the same time that Flip Saunders led the Timberwolves through their (first round of?) glory years in the early 2000s. Most people were understandably happy when he came back to the team last year to end his career. His home run and RBI numbers alone proved his worth, arrogant stat geeks be damned. Even more important were the leadership intangibles, which not only helped win games this year but will continue to be impactful to the young players he mentored for years to come.
Sure, it's sad to see him go, but it's better for him to go out with some spark left than to embarrassingly decline.
Bless you, Jerry Kill
Health issues have forced Gopher football coach Jerry Kill to retire. He has lived to coach, and that his body isn't allowing him to do it anymore is heartbreaking (as anyone who heard his press conference can attest to). Let's just hope and pray that he can get the rest and medication he needs to stay happy and healthy.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He was also Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik's music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.