Thursday, January 31, 2008

You Gotta Read This!

I haven't smiled much since The Trade. This blog did it for me -- check it out and see if you agree.

Story Time: The One Where I Artfully Compare Johan Santana to a Moo Cow.

Good stuff.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Grief Counseling

We've all heard by now that the best pitcher in baseball (not to mention the sexiest man on the planet) has been traded and will no longer play for the Twins. This is very, very sad news. Much like sitting with a loved-one with a serious illness, we were prepared for the inevitable. But knowing it's coming doesn't make it easier to take. Let's go through the five stages of grief together:
  1. Denial - Well, the deal is not quite final yet. Johan still has to accept a contract extension and pass a physical (seriously?). Maybe, just maybe he'll block the trade and choose to stay with the Twins.

  2. Anger - Are you serious? Where are the players I've actually heard of? Where's Jacoby Ellsbury? Where's Melky Cabrera? Who the heck is Carlos Gomez anyways? Dan Barreiro pretty much covered the whole emotion on his radio program today.

  3. Bargaining - Many times bargaining happens before the loss. Just last week, Sid held on to hopes that the Twins would keep Johan, practically bargaining with them to not let him leave.

  4. Depression - Yeah, this one's pretty obvious. Howard Sinker admits that he's more sad than mad. I have to agree.

  5. Acceptance - The silver lining (well maybe cheap chrome lining) here is that he went to a National League team and we don't have to worry about facing him. And we know that the Twins have done a good job picking prospects before, right?

So, good luck Johan. I sincerely hope you win another bajillion Cy Youngs. I'll look forward to seeing you in the All-Star Game.

As for me, I'll be holding shivah like Izzy.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Happy Friday!

Wow. What a great Friday! I am very happy to learn that Justin and Cuddy have signed long-term extensions. And it looks like many of the other Twins Bloggers out there are just as happy. So, I really don't have anything interesting or different to add other than "YAY! Good Work!"

I especially liked Howard Sinker's attitude about it, that the Twins really are trying to be competitive (although, I still dare not even think about dreaming about the Twins signing that sexy pitcher -- it's too painful to think about).

What a great way to start the weekend.

Oh, a note to the guy in IT (who may be spying on me) -- Yes, I know I'm blogging at work, but I'm also loading that software that takes forever to load. Really.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Little Therapy, and a Little Pensiveness

Thank goodness FSN runs Twins Classics games during the off-season. They re-aired Johan's 17-strikeout game from August. It was perfect timing for me -- I was mad at my boss, and my commute home sucked (why does 1/4 inch of snow have to cause freeways to turn into parking lots?) -- so a baseball game was a treat, even if it was an encore.

I loved seeing the guys again; I had honestly forgotten about Tommy Watkins and Alexi Casilla. Johan was his normal beautiful self, stiking out guys all over the place. And Nathan made it interesting in the ninth, which was strangely satisfying. I was totally into it -- even cheering whenever Johan would notch another strikeout. My kids thought I was nuts ("Mom, you know how this game ends").

It was great to see the "no longers" one last time -- Torii, Bartlett (who was on the bench with a hammy pull), and Tyner (who came in in the eighth as a defensive replacement). But it was terribly bittersweet to watch Johan tip his hat when he came out after the eighth. Wow. I guess it would be easier if we just knew...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Moderating Moderate Moderation

For some reason, when I was driving into work yesterday, I was thinking about the movie Lost Horizon. Specifically, I was thinking about the scene where the John Geilgud's character (Guy from Shangri-La) and Peter Finch's character (American Guy) were walking and talking, and John Geilgud said something like, "Here, we do everything in moderation, including moderation."
How is that possible? If you moderate moderation, then that means you don't do it constantly, which means you sometimes do something in excess. And if you do anything in excess, you're breaking the rule of everything in moderation. I'm confused. And I'm especially confused that I was even thinking about this at all, and I'm concerned that I'm still thinking about it.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Doin' the Hank-y Pokey

Put your Santana offer in...

Take your Santana offer out...

Put your Santana offer back in...

Yeah, yeah. We all know that all Hank wants to do is "shake it all about".

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Book Review: Kurkjian

In the spirit of full disclosure, I wanted to say that the last time I wrote a book review was in high school, maybe even junior high, which was approximately 136 years ago. So, I'm not completely sure if I'm doing this right. But I'll try my best.

Tim Kurkjian. Is This a Great Game, or What? New York: St. Martin's Press, 2007, 258 pp., $24.95

When I received this book, I was expecting it to be full of all kinds odd statistical facts much like his pieces on Baseball Tonight. It's not like that at all. It's more like a compilation of newspaper special-feature type articles.

Kurkjian loves baseball very much. At least that's what he says several times throughout the book. I don't doubt it for a minute, but sometimes it feels like he tries too hard to sell it. And, it really seems like he sucks up to some of the people he's writing about - particularly A-Rod.

As I was reading, I could definitely tell that he has a newspaper background. His chapters are well organized, aptly cited, and fully researched. The stories he tells are very interesting, but not particularly fun. It felt like his writing came more from his Chicago Manual of Style and less from his heart. In fact, he doesn't get truly opinionated until the later chapters, which I enjoyed much more than the others.

Overall, I liked the book. It kept me interested, and he really does know what he's talking about. One of the reviews on the back of the jacket uses the word hilarious. I wouldn't go that far, but it is enjoyable. I recommend it - I give it a solid B+.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Brat Hatin'

When I was reading the Hall of Fame results, one line caught my attention.

Chuck Knoblauch, Minnesota's second baseman in the 1990s, received one vote in his first year of eligibility and will be dropped from future ballots.

My first thought was, "What? Who in the world voted for him?" And I noticed that others felt the same way too. But then I thought about it a little more and wondered why I was so quick to get all hateful on him.

Now, I'm not big into statistical analysis - you could show me a whole bunch of numbers and I couldn't tell if they represented a good player or a winning strategy for Deal or No Deal - but I'm pretty sure Knobby wasn't a bad player. Chances are, however, he simply wasn't good enough to get in. It's hard to get in for a reason. But there are plenty of guys who are not quite good enough on the ballot, and I don't get riled up if they get votes.

So what's the cause of his demise (or, despise, I guess) in public opinion? Some of it probably has to do with his decline once he was traded to the Yankees. But I think a lot of it has to do with his remarkably bad attitude.

At least, that's what did it for me.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Yeah, I Think I Can Sit at His Table

An acquaintance of mine, who happens to be a teacher, and I were talking, and the subject of sports came up. He mentioned that in order to sit at his lunch table, one must first correctly answer a sport-related question. So I said "Ok, give me one; let's see if I can sit at your table." He asked, "Who was the starting rightfielder for the Minnesota Twins last year?"

I looked at him, and after a pause, I said, "Um, I actually have a t-shirt that says 'Cuddy is my boyfriend.'" He smiled and nodded.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Yup. 23 Ways. I Guess.

So, I got my new book 23 Ways to Get to First Base, the ESPN Uncyclopedia today. It's a fun book -- it has tons of random sports trivia and facts. A good reference for bar bets and showing off.

A few days ago, I took a stab at what I thought the 23 ways to first would be. I guess I did ok, however, my interpretation of "fielder's choice" was a little too broad. Even though number 2 is "fielder's choice", I would have scored numbers 3, 4, and 5 as fielder's choice too. I would also call number 15 an error.

I should have known to score walk and intentional walk separately. And I forgot about all the interference ones. Really, the only ones I truly didn't know were numbers 14, 21 and 22 (I can't imagine what an illegal pitch could be). And, honestly, number 23 is really lame.

So, here it is from page 83:

  1. Hit
  2. Fielder's choice (example: runner on second base, ball hit to shortstop, shortstop throws to third base for tag)
  3. Forceout at another base
  4. Preceeding runner put out allows bater to reach first base (example: in previous scenario, shortstop tags runner)
  5. Sacrifice bunt fails to advance runner (fielder's choice on a bunt)
  6. Hit by pitch
  7. Error
  8. Walk
  9. Intentional walk
  10. Pinch-runner
  11. Dropped third strike
  12. Catcher interference (catcher impedes batter)
  13. Fair ball hits runner
  14. Fair ball hits umpire
  15. Sacrifice fly dropped
  16. Obstruction of runner (example: second baseman obstructs baserunner on way to second on batted ball in play)
  17. Fielder interference (example: pitcher obstructs batter on his way to first base)
  18. Spectator interference (of the ball)
  19. Fan obstruction (of batter)
  20. Runner out on appeal (example: runner on first base, ball hit to right field, runner misses second on the way to third base and is called out on appeal; batter at first base is credited with an at-bat but not a hit)
  21. Failure to deliver pitch within 20 seconds on three-ball count
  22. Four illegal pitches
  23. Game suspended with runner on first; if he's traded prior to the makeup game, another player may take his place.

It goes on to say: "For the record, just three -- hit, walk and hit by pitch -- officially extend a streak of reaching safely in consecutive games."

By the way, I'm currently reading Tim Kurkjian's book, "Is This a Great Game or What?" I'll let you know what I think when I'm done.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Staring out the Window

People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.
~Rogers Hornsby

I probably see that quote a hundred times each off-season, and I can always relate. And now that the holiday-hubub is over, the off-season blues hit even harder. Sure, the Twins try to help out by offering the Winter Caravan and TwinsFest, and those are fine events, but they are merely teases. Kind of like small appetizers when you haven't eaten all week. But, they do nourish a baseball hunger a little.

So, for now, I'm staring out the window. But it's nice to know that these are coming up soon, which means the start of spring training will soon follow, and then the start of the season.

As for me, I probably won't attend any of the Winter Caravan tours since they take place during the week (alas, I have a real job). I'm not sure about TwinsFest -- I'd like to go (alas, I have a family who might have other ideas for that weekend). But I'm thrilled to know they'll be here soon.