Slide over analytics. Make room for artificial intelligence (AI). It’s for real. It’s coming.

How could it work for the Minnesota Twins?

“It’s funny you asked that — it’s a great question and it’s something I think the whole world is unpacking at the same time,” Twins baseball chief Derek Falvey said the other day.Charley Walters

“The speeding up of the development of AI in the last six months of our lives is something we’re all trying to unpack,” he continued. “I don’t have an answer today for it. We’re thinking about it — how does it help us, where can we look at it.

“There’s areas where it naturally fits, when you’re building systems or tools to help you assess player talent or look at stats. We’re already building models that project, ‘What’s this player going to do in the future?’ We’ve been building models forever, where do players play on the field, positioning.”

That’s analytics.

“You look at where guys have weaknesses in their zones, where the pitches go, where they swing and miss,” Falvey said. “So it helps you with team planning and those things. That’s true in every sport.”

But, Falvey wonders, “How does AI amplify that? None of us know yet. Are there ways that AI can help you look at that data in a way that we haven’t before? I don’t have an answer to that because we don’t have the tools to do it.”

For now.

“But there’s probably something coming based on the rapid escalation of the use of AI that will show up in sports at some point,” Falvey said. “Everyone’s thinking about it. We’re studying with human beings right now and trying to understand what the data tells us. Maybe there’s ways to actually study it with us even knowing what it’s studying. It’s fascinating.”

How might AI transfer to the field?

“Think about it in this context — a guy hits a thousand baseballs over the course of a few seasons,” Falvey said. “All that data exists as to where he hit them, how hard he hit them and where they go directionally. Right now, we plot that on a sheet that shows you a map. Same in basketball — it’s a shot chart where guys make shots from, where they don’t.

“So we have to study that data now and decide where’s our right fielder’s going to play; here’s where our left fielder’s going to play. That’s what we do. There could be a more machine-oriented version of studying that to say, ‘Actually, for this pitcher, for this hitter, the right balance is actually here because of the way he throws his fastball, or because of the way he throws his breaking ball.

“There’s ways that we can’t even comprehend that’s so multi-dimensional. That could be how (AI) works in the future.”

— The 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine is contracted through 2026. Hollis Cavner, who runs the PGA Tour tournament, said 3M’s recent $10.3 billion lawsuit settlements over water systems contamination won’t affect the tournament’s future.

“Doesn’t affect us at all — that’s a totally separate issue with corporate,” he said.

— Mike Antonovich, the former Greenway High, Gopher, Minnesota Fighting Saint and North Star and mayor of hometown Coleraine, Minn., is recovering after a heart attack last week.

“I’m doing good — I’m very fortunate,” Antonovich said. “I always told my buddies I was invincible. Now I’m not.”

Antonovich, 71, who is among Minnesota’s best-ever high school players, started playing senior hockey a couple times a week in Coleraine for exercise and fun during the COVID outbreak a few years ago.

“I didn’t know what the symptoms were,” he said. “When I played, I had a cough in my chest — I thought it was just because of the cold. Then when I worked out, I could feel something in my chest. It wasn’t sharp or anything. It would go away.

“But when it (heart attack) happened, I was working out in the basement. Nobody was home. When I came up the stairs, there was a little more pain in there. I tried to walk it off, and that didn’t work. Then my wife showed up and she knew what was going on. So she got some aspirin in me.”

Antonovich, who is an amateur scout for Minnesota for the Columbus Blue Jackets, was flown by helicopter from Grand Rapids to St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth, where he received a stent.

“Got there in a hurry — they basically they saved my life,” he said.

Antonovich turns 72 in October.

“If somebody told me I’d still be touching the ground at 72, I’d be a happy camper — hopefully now I’ll make it,” he said.

— Antonovich plans to join Jamie Langenbrunner, Winny Brodt Brown and Mark Parrish as headliners at the Old Timers Hockey Association Camp Confidence fundraiser golf tournament July 20 at Oak Glen.

— Most days, Virginia Milbert of South St. Paul rides a stationary bike for 30 minutes. She turned 106 years old last week.

Milbert was with family members Tuesday at a birthday lunch at Southview Country Club. She isn’t much of a TV sports fan. In fact, she no longer enjoys watching TV.

“TV is terrible — all these people shooting each other,” she said.

Born in 1917 in Maple Plain, Mrs. Milbert is a 1935 Wayzata grad. She’s sprightly and especially lucid with an impressive memory. She said she’s only tried a cigarette once in her life. “And threw it away,” she said.

Alcohol? She doesn’t drink. “I don’t like the taste,” she said.

She’s been a local Soup Kitchen volunteer for 51 years.

Virginia’s secret to a long life?

“Good genes,” she said.

— After taking a year off, Hockey Hall of Famer Phil Housley, the South St. Paul native who lives in Stillwater, is back in the NHL with the New York Rangers as associate head coach.

“I was looking at a lot of different roles, including being a broadcaster or special advisor, and (Rangers coach) Peter Laviolette called me and wanted to know if I was still interested in coaching, and I jumped at the opportunity,” Housley said from Nashville, Tenn., where he was attending the NHL draft.

“Working with Peter and having had some success, and with a storied, original-six franchise, playing in downtown New York at Madison Square Arena, I got really excited. It’s humbling and an honor,” he said.

Housley is 59 years old.

“Fifty-nine is the new 40,” he said with a laugh.

— The Dodgers have recalled Simley grad Michael Busch, 25, from Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he was hitting .312 with seven home runs. For the Dodgers, he’s hitting .227 in his last seven games, with two recent game-winning hits.

— Cretin grad Joe Gallagher, whose St. Paul Doddle Productions company produced the acclaimed opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National, is just back from a site visit to County Limerick, Ireland, where he’ll work the 2027 Ryder Cup at the posh Adare Manor course.

This September, Gallagher will be in Rome, Italy, working the 2023 Ryder Cup at nearby Marco Simone Golf and Country Club. The 2029 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National will be Gallagher’s swan song.

— That was noted actor Josh Duhamel, who’s a Minnesota sports fan from North Dakota, at Target Field for a recent Twins-Red Sox game.

— It was a who’s who of local sports at Mancini’s Char House to honor St. Paul’s Billy Robertson on his recent retirement as commissioner of the U.S. Hockey League. Robertson is moving to Bluffton, S.C., near Hilton Head and will be involved in assorted consultant work.

— Illustrious local sports author Bob Showers has contracted with the Wild to produce a photo-driven book in conjunction with the team’s upcoming 25th anniversary season.

— The Twins, with a per-game average of 23,038, rank 18th in attendance among baseball’s 30 clubs. Last year, the Twins averaged 22,514 per game.

— Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, 66, who in 2016 was the American League manager of the year with the Twins, is making rounds as a Twins minor league instructor this week.

— Beloved retired Gophers football trainer Jim Marshall, who resides at the Minnesota Veterans Home in Minneapolis, turns 93 on Monday.

— St. Thomas Academy three-sport athlete Jake Borman, who is headed to Bethel University to play football, is the recipient of the $5,000, 2023 Minnesota Minute Men’s Amateur Athletic Foundation Award.

Don’t print that

— Although Brian Dutcher is loyal to San Diego State, the Gophers would be expected to consider the Bloomington Jefferson and Minnesota grad if there’s a men’s basketball coaching change, which seems likely, after the coming season.

Dutcher, son of former Gophers coach Jim Dutcher, is signed through 2025-26, when his salary would be $1.53 million, highest in the Mountain West.

The Gophers, for a third straight season, are picked to finish last in the 14-team Big Ten. Coach Ben Johnson is to begin his third year of a contract that runs through 2027 and is worth $1.95 million annually.

Dutcher, who was initially contacted by Gophers athletics director Mark Coyle before Johnson was hired in 2021 and last season led San Diego State to the NCAA Tournament’s championship game, is to make $1.41 million this season. But if the Aztecs move from the Mountain West Conference to the Pac-12, as rumored, Dutcher’s annual salary would be expected to increase by at least $500,000.

— Pssst: Don’t think Arkansas men’s basketball coach Eric Musselman, a two-time NBA head coach, wouldn’t consider the possibility of coaching the Gophers, which his father Bill once coached, for the right offer.

Eric, who last season took the Razorbacks to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite 8, is contracted through 2026 with an annual salary averaging $4 million. Three players from Musselman’s team last season were chosen in last week’s NBA draft.

Interestingly, Musselman has an Arkansas contract clause allowing no buyout fee if he were to take the San Diego State job after the 2024 season. San Diego State is his basketball alma mater.

— Twins starter Joe Ryan, 27, is making $730,250 this season — $10,250 more than the major league minimum — and is under club control through 2025, when he’ll become eligible for salary arbitration.

Look for the Twins to try to lock him up with a long-term deal, probably five years for at least $80 million. Ryan, 8-5 with a 3.44 ERA, was acquired from Tampa Bay as part of the Nelson Cruz trade two years ago. Cruz, who turned 43 on Saturday, is hitting .250 with five home runs for the Padres.

In April, the Twins signed starter Pablo López — 4-5 with a 4.24 ERA — to a $73.5 million, four-year deal. Lopez is 27.

— Lakeville North grad and incoming University of Wisconsin men’s basketball freshman Nolan Winter, son of former Gopher Trevor Winter, has name, image and likeness (NIL) deals of $159 for an event appearance and $173 for a personal autograph.

— No LIV Golf players will be at the 3M Open July 27-30 at the TPC in Blaine. Despite the recent lawsuit settlement with the PGA Tour, LIV golfers remain banned from the PGA Tour for at least a year. That’s what the PGA Tour has told its tournament officials.

— The Zac Brown Band performed as part of the 3M Open four years ago, but there won’t be a concert this year. Insiders say the cost for some tour golf concert performers now is in the $750,000 range.

— David Kahn, 61, the former Timberwolves GM who infamously chose point guards Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn ahead of point guard Steph Curry in the 2009 NBA draft, gets a spread in the recent Sports Illustrated about his quest of Paris Basketball, which produced the recent NBA draft’s most recent No. 1 pick, Victor Wembanyama.

Of his time with the Timberwolves, Kahn told SI, “I don’t know if I’ve ever been more miserable.”

He also said, “I am certain — triply certain — I left the Timberwolves in a much, much better place than when I arrived.”

Kahn’s win-loss record over four years in charge of the Timberwolves: 89-223.

— Ticket prices for Gophers football in 1963 — the home schedule was Nebraska, Army, Michigan (homecoming), Indiana and Wisconsin — were $4.50. A season ticket was $22.50. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22 that year, so the Wisconsin game was postponed to Nov. 28, Thanksgiving. Carl Eller was named team MVP.

Single-game reserved tickets for the Gophers’ 1963-64 men’s basketball season were $2. Season tickets for 11 home games were $17.

— The University of Minnesota’s $166 million Athletes Village, which opened five years ago, still owes some $30 million.

— George Frazier’s recent passing means three Twins — Kirby Puckett and Joe Nierko, both in 2006 — from the 1987 World Series championship team have died. Highest-paid Twin from manager Tom Kelly’s squad was Kent Hrbek at $1.31 million.

From Twins manager Billy Martin’s 1969 division champions, 14 players have died. Highest paid was Harmon Killebrew, who died in 2011, at $80,000.

— Disappointed over the departures of a South St. Paul athletics director and superintendent, it looks like a prominent former Packers star athlete and longtime financial supporter who has contributed thousands of dollars to his alma mater’s football and hockey programs will probably end his support.


— Ex-basketball Gopher Jamison Battle on his transfer to Ohio State, per the Columbus Dispatch: “I’ve been in college for four years and I haven’t played in the (NCAA) Tournament. I don’t think I’ve had a winning season.”

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