Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tigers at Twins: Well That's a Little Better


Monday -- Tigers 7 - Twins 5
Tuesday -- Tigers 3 - Twins 11
Wednesday -- Tigers 1 - Twins 5

Record: 43-35


Ok, it was a lot better. Well, except for Monday. But even Monday wasn't that bad. Just the pitching.

Speaking of pitching, it was really nice to see Blackie and Slowey have solid outings. They both have been known to do this streaky, reaaaally-good-then-reaaaaally-bad stuff before. So let's hope they're both back to reaaaally good and stay that way.

While Nick's outing wasn't spectacular -- an improvement to be sure, but he still has some work to do -- I'm most impressed with Kevin's. I didn't see the game (damn you, full-time job), but I was pleased with the way he got his outs. I just hope that Kevin's ankle (he took a line drive hit to it) will be ok and that he's not in any pain.


Speaking of pain, did you see poor Joel Zumaya's injury? It still makes me sick to my stomach thinking about it. It's a good thing it's just a bone fracture, and not a ligament or tendon tear. Sure, he'll be out for the rest of the season, but a soft-tissue injury could have ended his career.

I have to wonder, though, if he throws with such force so that he breaks his elbow, he can't be doing it right, right? I mean, throwing a 100 mph fastball is awesome, but only if you can do it without hurting yourself. So there has to be something wrong with his form. Or his conditioning. Or his bones.

Anyway, I do wish him the best. Even though he's on a rival team, you never like to see a devastating injury like that. I want to beat him fair and square; not hurt him.


"I never thought home runs were all that exciting. I still think the triple is the most exciting thing in baseball. To me, a triple is like a guy taking the ball on his 1-yard line and running 99 yards for a touchdown."
Hank Aaron
So, how about those triples, huh? They've suddenly become oh so fashionable. I'd love it if the trend held on for a long, long time.

On Monday, good old Jim Thome tried to do everything he could to carry the team on his strong back and pull out a win (too bad there wasn't room for Francisco Liriano), and in all that leadership and effort and stuff, he managed to hit a triple.

Yes. Jim Thome hit a triple. Really.

Oh, how I wish I could've seen that (someone in my family just had to have Dairy Queen), but it sure sounded funny on the radio. I nearly peed my pants laughing.

Apparently Denard Span didn't want to be out-done. We all knew that he's capable of hitting triples on occasion, so he felt that he needed to make his really special so that we'd want to talk about him too. So he just went ahead and tied the team record of three in one game. It's too bad the Tigers walked him in his last plate appearance; if he had hit four, it would've been a modern-day major league record.

I was hoping someone would hit a triple today, just so it would make a nice little package to write about. But, alas, it didn't happen. Yes I know Miguel Cabrera looked like he hit a triple, but even though he wound up on third in the 4th inning, he was credited with a double and an advance on the throw home (I'm in full youth-baseball-official-scorekeeper mode, can you tell?).

To be fair, though, whenever a guy hits a homerun that literally leaves the park, it's pretty special too. Way to go Justin. I wonder if they'll put a little plaque on the plaza like they do in Baltimore. Justin has one there, too.


I'm going to Thursday night's game. I'm all set to see the Pavano-stache in person. Let's hope he goes all Snidely Whiplash on those Rays.

Who else is going?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lousy Road Trip Care Packages...

...done in lousy pictorial puns.

Yeah, so this road trip was a little tough. The Twins went 3-6, and they went 8-10 for interleague play. Pretty untypical stuff lately.

So, thank goodness both the road trip and interleague play are over for the year. I bet the players feel the same way. They're likely to feel pretty crummy coming home from this clunker of a trip. They're in a bit of a slide, and they could probably use some cheering up. I propose we put together some swell care packages to make them feel, and play, better.

For the hitters...

It seemed like a lot of the guys had big holes in their swings. Like this:

So let's get them a bunch of these, and then they'll have solid swings:

For the fielders...

The guys have been making some mental mistakes and having sub-par performances out on the field. We all know they're better than that. Justin Morneau even said something about the team's lack of energy. So we should give all the guys a bunch of energy, how ever they like to take it:

For the starting pitchers...

The group that needs the most help is the starting pitchers -- well except for Carl Pavano. They really struggled, and they need some extra-large care packages.

I've noticed that they've been leaving pitches up. Hitters like it when pitchers leave their pitches up. Hitters hit pitches left up early, often, and far. So we need to send a case of "down in the zone":

And, except for Pavano, the starting pitchers haven't really been going far into games, which puts undue strain on the bullpen. They really need to eat a lot more innings. We should send some Innings Seasoning so the innings will be more delicious and the guys will eat more:

Speaking of Pavano, have you noticed he started pitching really well ever since he started growing that nasty mustache? It may be ugly, but you can't ignore its power. I think he must add some special magic to it, which is great since there are no MLB rules against mustaches having performance-enhancing powers. I suggest we break into his suitcase, steal a sample of his formula, figure out how to mass-produce it, and give a dozen jars of it to each of the other starters:

I know that having these nasty-'staches on all the starters will significantly decrease the attractiveness of the team. Many female fans will have a hard time liking our cute boys with '70s-bad-cop-show-style facial hair, but it's just a sacrifice we'll have to make. After all, ugly mustaches are nothing compared to ugly pitching.

For all the guys...
I've said it before -- there's nothing more fun than bubbles. No one can be bummed out and mad if he's surrounded by millions of bubbles. And if the guys are happy, they're certain to play better. So, another big bubble machine it is:

Hopefully, these lovingly-assembled care packages will make the guys forget their troubles and help them play more like we know they can.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Why Cliff Lee Reminds Me of Brett Favre

...and no, not the whole "I'm retired... wait, no I'm not... wait, yeah I am... wait, ok, no..." thing. You'll see what I mean in a minute; just allow me to develop my point.

Last week, a reputable Seattle blogger with the U.S.S. Mariner community speculated that the Mariners will probably want to trade Cliff Lee in the next few weeks. He went on to examine all the possible teams that could complete the deal. He formulated that, in his opinion, the Twins were the best option in regard to need and the depth of players they could give up. It seems as if a lot of other folks think the same thing. (I heard that Buster Olney from ESPN agreed, but I can't read his article about it because I refuse to pay to be an "insider." Good grief, ESPN makes enough money -- they have to be generating a ton of revenue just on the ads on their site -- they don't need to relieve me of mine.)

Let me just say that I sincerely doubt Cliff Lee will come here in real life. For various reasons, it just doesn't add up in my opinion. But, let's go with it so I can eventually get to my point.

I love pitching. I love pitchers. I especially love good pitchers. Good pitchers are leaders. They alone set the pace of the game. Usually, the team goes as its pitcher goes. They are in charge; they earn the win or loss; they are who we talk about when we speak of match-ups. They are the center. There is a reason they stand, above all others, on a mound. They have my undying devotion. Unless they hurt my team. Then I can just as easily despise them. My passion runs both ways.

Would I love to add a true ace to the Twins rotation? Absolutely. Do I have to love him? Not really.

First impressions are very hard to shake. I've spent so many years hating Cliff Lee when he was with the Indians, I would have a hard time letting it go. He was a rival I always hated facing. For one, he was good and very tough to beat. But, for another, he always seemed like an ass. I seem to remember reading that says some cocky stuff. Put him up there with Mark Buerhle, Justin Verlander, and CC Sabathia at the top of the Pitchers I Can't Stand List.

And then there was the time (was it last year or the year before?) he got all in a snit when Carlos Gomez bunted for a base hit off him. Really? I'm not sure I want a crybaby on my team.

So here I am, potentially facing the dilemma of accepting a man I loathe to a team I love. I know he could be a great help, and obviously I would want him to do well, you know, for the good of the team. But, I would find it very, very hard to actually root for him.

I'd be quite like many of the rabid, die-hard Vikings fans I know who struggled with welcoming Brett Favre, a man they hated for years. Now I finally understand what they were going through.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Twins at Phillies -- Scoring, Styles, and Surprises


Friday -- Twins 5 - Phillies 9
Saturday -- Twins 13 - Phillies 10 (11)
Sunday -- Twins 4 - Phillies 1

Twins take series 2-1
Record: 40 - 29


I wasn't able to watch Friday's and Saturday's games, but I was able to listen on the radio. It's kind of too bad I couldn't see them, because I would have seen a whole bunch of things that surprised me. I also would have seen a whole bunch of runs, some from some unlikely sources.

It's kind of funny that even though a lot of people say that the Twins have a National League-style of play (that is, they usually have a "get on, get over, get in", or station-to-station, approach), they executed one near-comeback that fell short, one actual comeback win, and one straight up victory using a mostly American League style. That is, they hit a lot of homers.

There were so many surprising things that happened in this series, I found myself shaking my head often. And sometimes laughing.

  • The Twins starting pitching was a.w.f.u.l. for two games in a row. Both Blackie and Slowey have had their ups and downs, but to have such terrible starts in a row was very disconcerting. Blackie was so good in May, but his June has been a little shaky. On the flip side, Slowey was shaky earlier, but he got better and we all thought he had turned things around. But to see them both so bad during the same series was pretty surprising. I hope this was just a glitch for both of them, and they'll amend things soon. They need to address their consistency issues.
  • Speaking of starting pitching, I was quite pleasantly surprised with Carl's gem on Sunday. When the Twins re-signed him, I was pretty much ambivalent. I knew he would bring experience to the rotation and that he's a capable pitcher, but I never really regarded him as ace-like. I didn't have any great expectations for him facing Roy Halladay -- he would have to be ace-like because the Twins weren't going to get many runs. I couldn't be happier to be surprised. It must be the 'stache. If he thinks it makes him pitch better, I suppose I can live with looking at it.
  • How about those homers, huh? Now it's not terribly surprising that Morneau hit two during this series. It wasn't even all that surprising that Thome and Mauer each hit one, but it's been a while since they've done that and I had been wondering if they remembered how. Even Span's wasn't terribly surprising -- just nice. But Punto and Butera? Where did those come from? Especially Butera's because it was so important. Huge "no-way" factor with that one.
  • Speaking of homers, I was a little surprised to hear that some Philly fans gave Thome a standing-o when he hit his. Well, I must say I was more impressed than surprised. With that homer, Thome has now hit one against all 30 teams. So I thought it was pretty cool that the smart baseball fans recognized a great baseball moment. And shame on the Philly writers and talk-show hosts who are scolding those fans. I would have done the same thing if the situation was reversed.
  • Not only was I surprised that Justin was able to stretch a single into a double when Victorino tried to throw behind him as he rounded first and then Howard wound up hitting him in the back (not officially a double from a scorekeeper's perspective, but he did wind up on second base nonetheless), but I was also surprised that he actually planned that way (at least this article makes it sound like it). Really? Baserunners plan this kind of stuff? I thought it was dumb luck. Do they practice this? Do they have "get hit in the back while running to second" practice during spring training?
Oh, and finally, I really regret that I didn't get to see Jon Rauch batting, um...bunting, with two strikes, and succeeding.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Border Battle" and Other Interleague Silliness

Or..."A Rant Against Interleague Play From Someone Who Likes It"

As a fan, I like interleague play. I really do. I admit that I'm one of those fans who doesn't really pay much attention to the National League, other than to keep a scanning eye on certain teams that friends of mine support. So, really, the only time I get to watch some NL teams is when the Twins play them during interleague play.

What's all the hype over this Jason Heyward fellow about? Is this Ubaldo Jimenez guy really all that? How's Chutley's hair doing these days? Is Johan still beautiful? These are questions I only learn during interleague games. Plus,I am amused when our pitchers have to hit. Admit it, you are too.

So, interleague play must be good, right? As one of Bud Selig's brainchildren (is that a word?), it must be awesome, right? Well, maybe it's awesome for generating revenue, but it's not awesome for baseball.

These games count, and thereby, they'll potentially have an impact on the standings at the end of the season. So while the Twins were struggling and dropping two games against the division-leading Braves (and their 37-27 record), the Tigers were sweeping the Pirates (23-40). Ok, so that kind of stuff happens - it's a long season, and things tend to even out. Even though the Tigers will face the Braves later, sadly, the Twins won't face the Pirates. My point, however, is that the Twins and Tigers, while locked in a division race, do not face the same teams. During their entire interleague schedule, the Twins face above-.500 teams for four series (ATL, COL, PHI, NYM) and the same sub-.500 team for two series (MIL). The Tigers, on the other hand, split above- and sub-.500 teams at three series each (LAD, NYM, PHI and PIT, WSH, ARI respectively). And two of the Tigers' "easy" series feature much worse teams than the ones the Twins play. Of course, this unfairness is present within all the divisions in both leagues. This unbalance could have implications within divisions for the championships and within the leagues for the wildcards.

k-bro's note: Honest, I wrote the previous paragraph before I read this post from Bill over at The Daily Something. Great minds...blah, blah, blah. You should read what he wrote too, because he explains this whole mess with much more detail -- he has charts and everything. Ok, back to my own drivel...

And why don't the Twins get to face the Pirates or the Nationals like the Tigers do? Because they've got a "natural rival." Which is the biggest line of bull ever -- at least for Minnesota.

When this whole interleague thing started, MLB decided that certain teams should have natural rivals to make things interesting for fans of teams that are close to one another. So they decided to group a couple teams and make them play each other for two series at home for each. I can kind of see how it would be fun for the Yankees v Mets, White Sox v Cubs, A's v Giants, and Dodgers v Angels because those teams are within the same market, and fans for both teams live near each other. But, really, do the Mariners and Padres have a rivalry? Boston and Philly? Whatever. It's really odd that not all teams have one. And what even more crazy is that Kansas City and St. Louis usually are natural rivals, but not this year.

As far as the Twins v Brewers goes, it's dumb. I ain't got no beef with the Brewers. In fact, if the Twins didn't have to play them twice a year every year, I wouldn't really think about them much at all. Milwaukee's nice and all, so why would I feel any kind of rivalry toward their team? (Keep in mind that I consider myself a Vikings fan, but I'm probably one of four who doesn't have a beef with the Packers either. So, yeah, take that for what you will.) I do admit that it makes for some fun road trips, but it's not really a rivalry.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Short Hiatus


You may have noticed that my blogging has been a bit thin lately, and I haven't really done any series recaps in quite a while. I just wanted to let you know that that trend is going to continue for the next couple of weeks. I am in the midst of a hectic patch, and I just don't have time to keep up with the blog right now. Don't worry, it's all good, happy (plus stressful) stuff keeping me busy, and I'll be back as soon as I can. I'll be sure to keep up with all the games, but I'll probably be doing a million other things at the same time.

In the meantime, be sure to check out all the other great Twins blogs listed over on the sidebar.

Go Twins!


P.S. Get well soon wishes to O-Dog, JJ, Morney, well, and everyone else. I hope everyone is at 100% very soon. You know what they say: a healthy roster is a happy roster (and a happy fan base).

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I'd Like to Buy...

A great-big ice cream sundae for:

Armando Galarraga

With all the buzz about blown calls and umpiring mistakes, let's not forget that Galarrago had an awesome pitching performance on Wednesday. He was fantastic, and truly deserves a heap of praise. Very impressive indeed. We all know he deserved to have his perfect game. He earned one; it's a shame he didn't get one.

Almost as impressive was his classy reaction to the blown call. He didn't shout; he didn't hold the ball in the umpire's face; he didn't stomp around. He just stood, smiled, and went back to work. I'll never forget that confused, bewildered smile.

Why ice cream instead of beer? Well, ice cream makes everything better. If anyone is in need of feeling better, it's Armando. It's always been my experience that bad times call for ice cream. And maybe a hug.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

So Long, Junior

The Seattle Mariners announced today that Ken Griffey, Jr. has retired. Just like that, he's not coming to the park any more. No parade. No fanfare. No goodbye. He doesn't want it to be a big deal.

But he was a big deal. Even to a family of Twins fans, he had a positive and lasting impact. We visited US Cellular Field a couple years ago just a few days after the White Sox acquired Griffey. My younger son likes to get shirts when we visit other teams' ballparks, and the only White Sox shirt he wanted was Griffey's. It's a good thing too, because his is the only White Sox shirt I would tolerate buying for him.

I asked my kids what their favorite Griffey memory was. My younger son said he liked everything about him: how he played center field and crashed into walls, that he was always classy, and that he played so well for so long without steroids. My older son remembers Griffey hit his 500th home run on Fathers Day.

Me, I just remember seeing him with his hat backwards, grinning and having fun. It was always clear how much he loved the game.

Best of luck, Junior.