Sunday, August 26, 2012

Short Bursts of Opinion, and a Belated Beer

I have some little opinions on some news items, so I thought I'd share some of them.


Scott Diamond received a 6-game suspension for throwing toward Josh Hamilton's head on Friday. He plans to appeal the suspension.

I'm glad he's appealing because I thought the whole situation was handled poorly. Roy Oswalt inexplicably beaned Joe Mauer in the back of the neck, I'm assuming because he was pissy that Pedro Florimon scored on a play that Oswalt should have fielded better.

At first, I was glad that the benches weren't warned immediately after Oswalt's stunt. Diamond's control hadn't been great, and I didn't want the inner half of the plate taken away from him. Then I developed a bad feeling when it became clear that Diamond was going to retaliate; because of that aforementioned shaky control, I didn't think he'd be able to pull it off.

Unfortunately he wasn't. He got tossed without warning, and then later he got a suspension and a fine. And the big baby who started the whole thing didn't get anything.

I don't think Diamond was truly trying to hit Hamilton in the head. He was probably trying to throw it in the same place Oswalt threw his, but since his control was, you got it, not great, and since Hamilton knew it was coming and ducked, it appeared worse than it was. It simply got away from him.

Even though it really amounts to one start, I still think a 6-game suspension is a little harsh.


Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon received 50-game suspensions for testing positive for banned substances.

I'm not clear on my own feeling regarding whether using "performance enhancing" drugs really helps enhance performance or whether using them really amounts to cheating. I'm also not clear on my own feelings regarding whether substance testing is conducted fairly and appropriately.

However, I do know that I'm a fan of following the rules. So, guys who break rules they agreed to when they signed their contracts, and who go to lengths to cover up their misdeeds, should be punished.

In light of these suspensions, there has been a lot of talk in the media whether the system is working and whether the punishment should be harsher.

It's impossible to say whether the system is working. Some guys are speculating that as many as half the players are using some sort of banned substance. If that's true, then only busting two guys kind of means that it isn't. But, I may be naive here, I seriously doubt it's that pervasive. The fact that anyone got caught at all says that the testing is working, at least a little.

Now, whether the punishments should be stricter, I don't think it would make any difference. There are always going to be some guys who are so arrogant to believe that they'll never get caught. To those guys, the length of the punishment is immaterial.

It bums me out whenever players get busted. I hope we see less and less of it.

However, I still can't watch an NFL game without wondering why baseball is the one with all the bad press regarding PEDs.


Way back on August 15, Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners tossed a perfect game. It's about time I buy him is virtual beer for it.

I remember being impressed with him when the Twins played the Mariners back in 2006. I believe I even congratulated Seattle fans for having such an exciting pitcher to look forward to cheering for.

He hasn't disappointed. I believe he's one of the most dominate pitchers in the game, and I not-so-secretly wish he played for my team. And, at 26 years old, he's just now hitting his prime.

Although I worry about my team having to face him, I am kind of looking forward to seeing him pitch on Monday.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Mid-month (or Thereabouts) Roster Catch Up Update

The last time I talked about the Twins roster changes, Danny Valencia had just been traded and Tsyoshi Nishioka had been called up to replace him. That was August 6th. The Twins have made a move or two since then. Let's review.

August 6: Nishioka was called up to replace Valencia on the roster. Since he makes $3 million a year, it was worth giving him another chance to see if he could hack it in the bigs. In fact, Gardy mentioned that he wanted to give him a nice long look -- saying something like it being more than a 3-day thing. The team wanted to give him full opportunity to make an impression.

August 13: Nishioka was optioned to AAA to make room for Trevor Plouffe to return from the DL. So, technically, he was with the Twins more than three days, but he really only played three games. He once again looked so lost and overmatched both in the field and at the plate, it was painful to watch him. He made an impression alright.

August 15: Brian Dozier was optioned to AAA. After making a good first impression at the beginning of the season (how many times did I write that I thought he wanted me to love him?), he struggled quite a bit. He jumped from AA last year to the bigs this year, so he probably just needs more development. Terry Ryan said something about slowing the game down for him to build his confidence. I'll bet he's back with the Twins for September call-ups. Pedro Florimon was called up to replace him.

August 16: The Twins optioned Luis Perdomo and Jeff Manship to AAA. It's funny, every time Perdomo came in to a game, I never remembered who he was; he was always "the guy with the beard." One of them was sent down to make room for Anthony Swarzak's return from the DL. The other one was sent down because the Twins were finally tired of a 13(!)-man pitching rotation.

August 17: The Twins purchased the contract of OF Matt Carson. They wanted another outfielder around because Denard Span and Ben Revere were banged up. Rene Tosoni, who is having kind of a crummy year in AA, was removed from the 40-man roster to make room for Carson.

August 20: The Twins outrighted both Nick Blackburn and Tsuyoshi Nishioka to AAA, which means they removed them from the 40-man roster. It doesn't really mean much for Nishioka, but it does mean that the organization has pretty much given up on Blackburn. Removing them from the 40-man roster means that they won't come back for September call ups, so they'll just finish up their seasons in Rochester. Both of them have contracts that last through next season, so we might see them again in Spring Training. Who knows who will take these roster spots. They could add some guys that they want to see in September, or they could be getting ready for Carl Pavano or PJ Walters to return off the 60-day DL.

And, finally, the roster move that wasn't made: Denard Span sprained his shoulder/clavicle on August 12 and hasn't played since; however, the Twins haven't put him on the DL yet. And it doesn't seem like they have any intention of putting him on it any time soon. I guess they're comfortable with a thin bench.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The k-bro Deckstravaganza Report

A few weeks ago, the Minnesota Twins sent out a tweet inviting folks to apply to their social media event beneath the Budweiser Roof Deck that they call Deckstravaganza.This was the third time I had applied, and this time I got an invitation.

First of all, I'd like to thank the Twins for hosting such a terrific event. The staff did a great job making us feel welcome and well-taken-care-of. Aside from the score of the game itself, we couldn't have had more fun.

Some quick notes:

  • They had these amazing pretzels there -- darker brown, but yet softer than the standard pretzels. Totally yummy. I've had them before at other events at Target Field, but I have yet to find them in the regular concessions during games. Please, Twins, start selling the amazing pretzels to the masses.
  • Robby Incmikoski is really nice. He took a few minutes to go around and introduce himself and chat with everyone. It was also pretty interesting to watch how he does his job. He keeps a score card so he's up on the game, but he also has to keep track of everything FSN is doing. It seems like he has to be pretty good at memorizing things because, while he does use notes while he's speaking for a voice-over drop, he doesn't have a teleprompter when the camera is on him.
Robby hard at work

  • The folks there were great. It was fun to see some familiar faces: Betsy (@bitzybetsy), TCM (@commnman), Bill (@Bill_TPA), and Nick Nelson (@NNelson9).
  • It was also fun to meet some folks whom I only "knew" through Twitter: Clubhouse Gal (@clubhousegal) and Lindsay Guentzel (@LindsayGuentzel).
  • Bill is extra cool because he shared my undying love of the pretzels.
  • When Blackburn gave up the second home run in the first inning, the crowd booed so lustily that the vibrations from it shook the deck. Heartbreaking. 
  • Nick Nelson was caught by the TV camera with mustard on his face (and making a crazy expression). He is henceforth known as #mustardface.
  • We got to sing Take Me Out To The Ballgame with TC Bear during the seventh-inning stretch. And we were on the the Jumbotron. We rocked it.
  • TCM is extra cool because he not only knew that Take Me Out To The Ballgame has verses (we sing the chorus during the stretch), but he also sang the first verse with me.
  • I was by far the oldest one there. Not that I mind.
All in all, it was a great time talking Twins baseball with a bunch of smart, fun fans. And, yes, we all spent a lot of time tap-tap-tapping on our smartphones. But, that was the point, right?

Thanks, Twins, for hosting such a fine event.

If you're a social media nut, I highly recommend that you watch out for a tweet or Facebook status from the Twins announcing that they're having another event and then apply.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Collection of Thoughts

A bunch of random thoughts that individually aren't enough for a blog post, but collectively are, well, something. Or not.

Buh-bye Danny
In a sudden, but not necessarily surprising move, the Twins traded Danny Valencia to the Red Sox for rookie-ball outfielder Jeremias Pineda.

Danny seemed to be pretty popular with his teammates, but his relationship between with the organization was becoming strained. Obviously, we can't know for sure what really happened, but I'm guessing that Danny's reputation for allowing his ego to be in charge (I picture him like that commercial where the shopper's confidence comes out of him, but instead of singing about a great value of a car, Danny's confidence just spits swagger) helped to make the decision. I'm also guessing that Gardy's tendency to get fed up with such things also contributed. It probably was one of those "it's not you, it's...wait, yeah, it's you" moments.

To illustrate how badly the Twins wanted to be rid of him, just take a look at the return on investment. Pineda is 21 years old and in only his second year of rookie ball, which makes him kind of old for the level. He is having a good year, so maybe he'll progress quickly, but I believe he'll be just an organizational guy.

Look Who's Coming -- Quickly
We're all very used to ooohing and aaahing over Ben Revere's defense and speed. With amazing catches and blazing baserunning, he's faster than a speeding baseball. But, have you noticed what he's been doing with his bat lately.

He's collected a nice little 20-game hitting streak. Additionally, he just needs a few more plate appearances to qualify to be in the batting race. Yeah, the batting race.

He's currently hitting .345; if he keeps it up, he'll surpass Joe Mauer as the team leader, and he'll be a very close second in the league behind Mike Trout of the Angels.

Go Benny. And, yes, I write this at the risk of totally jinxing him and ruining everyone's fun. So I'm crossing my fingers as I type. Or something.

A Second Chance at a First Impression
To replace Danny Valencia, the Twins recalled Tsuyoshi Nishioka. And on his first game back, he looked as if he had picked up right where he left off.


Hopefully, he just had a case of the butterflies on Monday, and he'll straighten things out soon. Also, maybe I'll stop being delusional.

I've been invited to participate in the Twins Deckstravaganza social media event on Saturday. And, because it's a social media event, I'll probably be live-tweeting the game. Follow along at

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Book Review: Dickey, Wherever I Wind Up

R.A. Dickey with Wayne Coffey. Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity, and the Perfect Knuckleball. New York, NY: Blue Rider Press., 2012, ISBN 978-1-101-56114-0

As much as I love to read, I usually have a hard time getting through an entire book without feeling like it's turning into homework, but this one was an exception. I enjoyed it so much that I looked forward to opportunities to read it.

The book chronicles his life through a difficult childhood, sexual abuse, self-loathing, finding faith, and of course, the ups and downs of baseball.

His baseball journey is quite interesting. Right after he was drafted by the Rangers in the first round, he learned that he didn't have an ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm. This crushing discovery re-routed his baseball career to struggling through several years in the minor leagues while supporting a young family. Eventually, he needed to learn the knuckleball in order to continue -- like chess, it's easy to learn, but difficult to master

He also recounts his path to a life of Christianity. I tend to be more of a secular person, but, even though I thought his religious reflections to be a bit many in number, I didn't think they were overly preachy. This insight is important in order to understand his life.

I definitely recommend this book. Reading it has made me want to root for him more than I did. And, he has nice things to say about his time with the Twins.