Friday, December 22, 2006

Tsk Tsk

For those of you who haven't bought your Festivus gifts for the TWT crew, there's still time. And, as a service, I'm going to help you out by discussing a few literary treasures to consider and some travesties to avoid. I'm not limiting myself to baseball, because all baseball and no hoops make Smitty a dull boy, all baseball and...

I also want to talk about baseball movies, since DVD's make perfect stocking stuffers, though certain baseball films better serve as coasters, these especially. Quick 5 underrated baseball movies:

5. A League of Their Own - Decent baseball stuff, except for Lori whatshername' Petty's pitching. Not Nuke LaLoosh bad, but still. (Incidentally, wasn't she supposed to blow up after Point Break? What happened? And where does Point Break rank on the 'this movie sucks but I'm in' scale, and does Pat Swayze have 3 of the top 5 with this, Road House and "WOLVERINES"? But I digress.) Holds up pretty decently actually, considering how sports movies start to look dated in about 3 years as filming technique improves.

4. 61* - Yeah, it's about the Yankees. But in my mind's eye, from about Jackie Robinson to Bucky &*^&#@ Dent, the Yankees weren't really the MFY's. Plus Billy Crystal is a true Yankee fan from way back, not some band wagoneer who couldn't tell Sparky Lyle from Sparky Anderson. Good stuff about the pressures and stresses on Maris as he chased Ruth.

3. Little Big League - yeah, it's sort of a kids movie, but A) it's a reasonably grownup kid's movie; B) the baseball sequences are about the best anyone has ever done in a movie, (I could watch the end credits with highlights set to Taj Mahal's version of Fats Domino's "I'm Ready" about a hundred times); C) Best. Hidden Ball Trick. Ever. My roommate claims his high school team used the same play. Though he was the catcher and the opposing teams cleanup hitter took his embarrassment out in the ensuing home plate collision. D) It's about the TWINS.

2. Inning 7 of Ken Burns's "Baseball." Just for Buck O'Neill singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." I'm not sure I'll ever really forgive the powers that be for not putting him in the Hall of Fame while he was still alive.

1. The Sandlot - Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez! I struggle to describe just how all around kickass this move is. Consider. 1) James Earl Jones. 2) Denis Leary. 3) Kids doing chaw, then puking on a carnival ride. 4) Phenomenal, chill-inducing 4th of July "night game" scene, with Mr. Ray Charles prominently involved. 5) Little Scotty Smalls was in both "Black Hawk Down" and "Mystic River". And of course:

"You play ball like a girl"

Anyway, on to a few of the sports books I perused this year. Y'all probably hate soccer, but I'll still throw out a recommendation for The Miracle of Castle di Sangro and Brilliant Orange.

On the more 'Merkan sports tip, first of all, you can probably skip both "The Devil Wears Pinstripes" and "Blood Feud" unless you've never ever read anything making fun of the Yankees. If that's the case then this blog might, in general, not be your cup of tea. If you want to get your hate on, (especially since my co-bloggers here are rabidly anti-Duke) go with this one. I'm a Duke guy*, but I loved every page of it.

Michael Lewis's "The Blind Side" is not as revolutionary as Money Ball, but is quite good. I'd even suggest that every reads it and then we can do a book club, especially given our recent exegesis on race and class. Anyway, it's about a rich white family who sorta adopted a poor black kid. Who happens to be an athletic marvel and turns into the best O-Line prospect in the land. And also about how left tackle has become the second most valued position in the NFL.

This was mildly diverting, if repetitive. But it's a bout hockey, so I've probably already devoted more time to it than necessary.

As to the meat and drink of this here, collective baseball, and how it has been very, very good to me. First let me direct you to my reviews of "Baseball Between the Numbers" and Mind Game for two offerings of wildly varying quality from the folks at Baseball Prospectus. "Mind Game" is an illustration of the old adage about "Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics," while "Between the Numbers" is a solidly analytical anthology.

Similar, though not quite as wonkish as BTN is Scott Gray's "The Mind of Bill James." Part interview/biography, part hagiography and part Baseball Abstract Light, MBJ tells in short version James' rise to prominence. It is fairly wide ranging with Jamesian views on everything from education to geopolitics. Most intriguing were the descriptions of how James has mellowed to a degree. Whereas earlier in his career, he would bombastically declare that there is no such thing as clutch hitting, he's prepared to back away and opine that there is such a thing, but it generally accounts for at most, 2 to 3 % of performance in those situations. I.e., the primary reason why Papi is a clutch beast is that he's good in general, though he might be slightly better than an 'equivalent' player in that spot.

My favorite sports book of the year was probably "FantasyLand" by Sam Walker. Walker, a baseball fan, but fantasy sports neophyte, somehow wrangles an invitation to the most cut-throat Expert's league in the country. Going head to head against people who are largely professionals (in that the League is more of an advertising venue for their draft guides and previews), Walker's goal is to use hard-core data analysis (he actually hires a NASA rocket scientist to be his numbers guru) while "re-humanizing" fantasy baseball by using his press credentials to gain access and insight into 'his' players. (He goes so far as to make up uniforms which he proceeds to distribute.) Hilarity/insanity ensues.

Finally, and more lyrically is Stephen Jay Gould's Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville. While Gould is something of a fuddy-duddy, (though one of the few people to be able to successfully combine Yankee and Sawx fandom with dignity reasonably intact - being a longtime Harvard professor from the Bronx might do that I suppose...) he was one of the first establishment types to look at baseball scientifically. His essay on why no-one hits .400 anymore (basic thesis, absolute skill levels are better now, but as the difference between the best and worst Major Leaguers has shrunk, in large part because the pool of potential players has grown far faster than league roster space: first was the color barrier, then the beginning of recruitment in Latin America, and now we see the inroads into Asia) must have been mindblowing at the time. It seems so conventional now, but he wrote in 20+ years ago. There were also bits I disagree with - specifically his hatred of the Wild Card for 'cheapening' the regular season. Funny how the only people who make this sort of argument are fans of, well, teams like the Yankees which are going to be in the playoffs or thereabouts every year anyway. All in all, a quality collection, very handsomely written.

So, go forth and give wisely.

* The Alaskan Assassin, baby, we go back...incidentally, my high school is on Wikipedia, how cool is that?

FWIW, this years team is going to be terrible to watch all year. Their best two players (one of whom is Greg Paulus, who, uhm, sucks) either can't or don't like to shoot - I love Josh McRoberts. It's like you took Luke Walton, made him taller, stronger, more-athletic, left-handed and a better ball-handler, yet he was still slightly worse. How does that work?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Old-Time Bradke

I'll leave the hagiography of Mr. Radke to the actual Twins fans on this blog. (From the outside looking in, he always struck me as slightly overrated, much like our namesake, because he was one of the few "name" players in a otherwise facelessly efficient collective. That is until Jo-nasty, Baby Jesus Mauer and F-Bomb came along)

But if he goes, I'd like to remember him for the way he went out:
He suffered a stress fracture of the glenoid in his throwing shoulder in late August but returned to the AL Central champions in the final weeks of the regular season.
To quote random anonymous idiots on TV poker shows "That's what I'm talking about!" No, I actually haven't the first damn clue what you are talking about. But what I mean to say is that Radke went old school for us here. Not "young fellas today have no respect" old school, but Eddie Shoor, Old-Time Hockey, old school.

Coming after a sports weekend where all we're left with is the bitching and moaning about those damn kids, it seems to me like we're forgetting a certain part of the appeal of sports in the first place. This stuff is supposed to be badass. I mean when Zinadine Zidane went all, well, Zidane during the World Cup Final, there was no small part in a lot of us that said "that's frickin' AWESOME". We celebrate the big hits in the NFL in "Jacked Up." We praise the intimidation factor of a Charles Oakley forearm, or a Roger Clemens high heater. Hockey even has the ur-manly Code which governs the game. And of course, HAKA
And the inverse, reverse and possibly Converse of this is the appreciation for "toughness" and "playing hurt." The reason the Dwyane Wade commercial is so effective, why Allen Iverson is so revered, and so on is the ability to "man up" and still get it done.

And yet, when someone goes too far, they are on their own, and we are left with the moral scolds of the sports world (gawd, how I dread Rick Reilly's column this week) shaking their heads in consternation.

My point is this - we celebrate Radke almost literally pitching his arm off, the playoff beard and so forth. We need to learn to accept the downside as well - I may be the first, last and only to make this comparison, but the other side of Brad Radke's pitching with a torn labrum is Carmello Anthony sticking up for his teammates. Punishment and approbation are deserved in this case, but remember too that we created this monster. Sports is an exercise in controlled, contrived and stylized violence. When we pretend that "there is no place for that in the game," we are telling ourselves tales.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Importance of Being Goliath

First of all, before I go into rebutting the eminently rebuttable as espoused by J. Tall-Guy, belated congrats to Mr. Morneau. And by congratulations, I mean Suck It, Jeter. (Damn, that feels good even a month later. Get back to me at next year's All-Star Break, and it might still be fun). No, seriously, enjoy your ill-gotten Gold Gloves while chilling in your manse with Jessica Biel. I'm sure you feel terrible...

On to more pressing business, because in the Corleone-Epstein manner of conducting business, it's just business, never personal. You and others may look askance at the 51.1 milsky for the rights to "the Gun from the Rising Sun," but consider that the traditional econometrics of baseball do not apply to importation of a Japanese supernova. Not to be my normal technocratic self, but the usual models simply do not apply here. While a change to the 4th, 5th or 6th alternate away uniforms may convince some among us to purchase yet more Big Papi Paraphernalia, Red Sox Nation is pretty gear-saturated. Not so the land of Santori Times (ring-a-ding-ding, babe.) Literally a wide new frontier in which Manny can explore Just Being Manny in new and historically interesting ways. Plus, we own a cable network, you heard? I think they have TV in Japan. Just saying.

So, if it gets done, (for your 60th, Pops, I give you the gift that keeps on giving...) this isn't really as case of The Winners Curse, (J.D. freakin' Drew on the other hand, is), D-Mat is simply worth more to the BoSox than to any other team. I mean monetarily, rather than winning percentage of course. But it's just business, son, always business.

The wins and losses Matsuzaka brings will be nice (and I looove our rotation next year assuming Lester is anything close to what he did last season), but our Hundred Years War with the MFY's is, as all global conflagrations must be, fought on multiple fronts. And in this battle, Young Theo has not only kept the Steinbrennerian Nothing from advancing, he has outwitted and outlasted the dreaded Boras. In this offseason of insanity, where Gil Meche, and Juan Pierre, and Vincente Padilla get paid like MJ, how much would the free-market winner for Matsuzaka's signature have shelled out?

Peter Gammons ($, bitches) makes a good point as well:
Rather than the $103.1M over six years (combining the posting fee and the contract), the luxury tax the Red Sox pay is based on the contract alone -- six years, $52M.
So, not only did Theo screw the MFY's, he screwed the Twinks (of course nothing Theo can do can match the arrival of Sir Sid on that front), and the Royals, and the Pirates, and so on. There's only one word for this, and the word is "Awesome."

Being the bully is fun, I can not lie. But it's not really about that right now. Matsuzaka fires the imagination for some reason. Maybe it's the supposedly staggering innovation of his "gyro-ball" which allegedly carves the plate like the slash of a broadsword, dropping down and away from lefties. Or maybe it's the fact that all we really know of him is from grainy YouTube clips and Runyanesque, nay, Bunyonesque tales of ludicrous exploits. It's like it's 1986, and your squad just signed Arvydas Sabonis.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

F-Bomb Meets Black Jesus

FreeDarko hearts F-Bomb:

A long time ago, I had the idea to write a post about Francisco Liriano, and how, being the quintessential Freedarko baseball player
As if you needed further validation of the boy genius. And therein lies the essential heart of the tragedy. Of Felix Hernandez. Of Mark Prior. Of Pedro Martinez. And certainly of Liriano.

Because baseball is not a game that leads itself to an appreciation of style. The game has been so broken down into the subatomic component parts, which makes the game a joy for the brain wizards out there, that there is very little room for the aesthete.

The one exception (aside from the truly transcendent defensive shortstop) is for a certain class of pitchers. Not the raw Hadouken power of a Randy Johnson in his prime or the junkie-fresh goodness of a Jamie Moyer. No, this is a different type all together: the monochromatic genius of Mariano Rivera's one pitch arsenal; Greg Maddux's minimalism; the classical opera of vintage Pedro, four pitches working in concert.

For all the excitement and highlights provided by the day-to-day grind that is a baseball season, they are all primarily functional - a long home-run is nice, but it counts the same as a wall-topper (and more importantly, is identical in the box score). But there are a few things that the seamheadz really haven't quantified. Picture Barry Zito's lollipop curve turning Hideki Matsui inside-out, or the bottom dropping out of the Rocket's 91-mph forkball and you get the idea.

But it goes beyond these exclamation points, to the innate way a true master of his craft has when he grasps the game's inner rhythm, forcing the opposing batters to become a little slow, a little late on every pitch. Shattered bats and pop-outs to the catcher ensue. And above all else, they do it quickly. Circa 1999, I saw Pedro 2-hit the Twins in a game which would have taken about 20 minutes had the Sawx not bothered to hit. I could have sworn he caught the ball from Varitek, stepped on the rubber, and threw without ever really pausing.

That thing which enables the truly special ones to do what they do is so fragile and ephemeral, and the annals of the game so strewn with the corpses, rotator cuffs and ulnar nerves of those who tried and failed, that we know we are lucky to see this potential truly realized. Martinez came the closest, but the Petey we see now is a very pale shadow of the Amadeus we knew. 7-innings of moxie, braggadocio and jheri-curl juice is what we are left with.

It seems so unfair that every young auteur on the scene is stricken down, as if one arm can not survive that much potential locked inside. And just as the jazzy-fizzles at FD weep at the very mention of the word "microfracture," especially when combined with "Amare," we mourn what already seems lost when the Grim Reaper, Tommy John and Dr. Frank Jobe come for the next in line.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


From the Star Tribune:

The Twins have spoken with the agents for righthander Sidney Ponson, a career 80-96 pitcher who was 4-5 with a 6.25 ERA last season in stints with the Yankees and Cardinals, both of whom released him. He was 17-12, 3.75 in 2003 with Baltimore and San Francisco. The Twins likely would sign him to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Big Mac in the Hall?

One question I can’t get out of my head, “Do we want Mark McGwire to be innocent of steroid use, or do we want him to lie about it?” I can’t help but think we want him to lie about it…so we can all look the other way. But haven’t we done that once already with him? And look where it’s gotten us…

There seem to be a few people left who think he should get in…but most seem to fall into one of two categories; A: Don’t elect him…he cheated and is highly tainted B: Don’t elect him…his numbers don’t warrant it and the Hall is too watered down already.

Let me clarify my own personal “definition” of the Baseball Hall of Fame. I believe it is a wonderful concept that celebrates the history of the game and, perhaps more importantly, gives its fans something to perpetually argue about. You can argue all day long the merits of this player or that one…all the while completely biased by your own personal experiences. (I think Jack Morris should be in the Hall…but I realize it’s because of one game that means more to me than any other) But, at the end of the day, I find it ludicrous to argue that the inclusion of a borderline player somehow lessens the achievements or historical placement of the all-time greats. Don Sutton being elected does absolutely nothing to the legacy of Walter Johnson.

Mark McGwire was an important player in the history of baseball, inarguably. Regardless of your opinion of how his overall (non-slugging) stats stack-up against time and memory, his inclusion into the Hall of Fame would NOT water-down the institution.

That leaves us with the peskier side of the “don’t elect him” coin…steroids. Allow me to revisit a concept I introduced way back at the beginning…are we bothered that he used steroids, or that he wasn’t willing to lie about it? For me, it is clearly the latter. The Baseball Hall of Fame is ripe with players of questionable character and tactics, but the list we’ve actually excluded for similar reasons is much smaller. (Pete Rose and Joe Jackson?)

Baseball has always lived on it’s own terms. The rules of everyday life don’t apply…and the fans wouldn’t be nearly as enthralled if they did. It can be alternately more forgiving (Steve Sax) and infinitely harsher (Bill Buckner) than real life.

It is therefore my very strongly held opinion that you cannot punish the players for living in the world MLB has created. Mark McGwire almost certainly used steroids. We knew it then, and we know it now. Why is it okay for everyone involved (fans, media, Bud Selig) to relish in the activities of 1998 while using those very circumstances to exclude a player from the game's history?
It is NOT okay.

Major League Baseball (players and owners) has long lived and died by its own agenda…why change that now? The institution looked the other way (again, this is fans, media, AND officials) for an entire era…how can we possibly ignore that era in the game’s historical depot?
We cannot.

With the exception of discussing the true all-time greats, players are always judged by their performance within their own era. Mark McGwire was inarguably one of the top three sluggers during his era. The fact that the rules were not the same as today should have no bearing on the judgement of his numbers.

Nor should his inclusion into the Hall of Fame somehow protect him from scrutiny. We continue to correctly question the statistics from before baseball was integrated. We continue to refer to the “dead ball” era. There have been careers interrupted by war…by injury…by stupidity. His election would neither exempt him from ongoing criticism nor would it excuse his actions. It’s not about reward, at least for me, it’s about historical context.

The idealized purity of baseball lies within it’s complexity; the feeling of anticipation before the pitcher releases the ball, the appreciation of taking an extra base, and the feeling of sunshine mixing with the smell of leather.

There is no purity in statistics, no matter how complex we manage to make them.

Mark McGwire was a generation defining ballplayer. He should be rememebered as such…for every reason you can think of.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Credo (not Crede, mind you)

One of these news headlines is...shall we say...different? You be the judge:

Red Sox's winning bid for Matsuzaka: $51.1 million
Report: Cubs agree to $126M deal with Soriano
Tigers deal three pitchers to Yankees for Sheffield
Twins express interest in trade for Rockie's starter
Dodgers to bring back Garciaparra for two more years

No, this isn't an adult version of the Sesame Street classic One of These Things Is Not Like the Other. These are five mainstream media outlet headlines referring to events concerning the MLB offseason. Four of them contain the name of a top tier player, and the contains the kind of mildly interesting so-whatness that we've come to expect as Twins fans during the Terry Ryan era.

This is not a critique. This is, in fact, a credo. Perhaps our first here at Tuesdays With Torii.

The fact is that when you're a small market fan, the offseason is just an entirely different beast. Beowulf, maybe. But more likely that fuzzy squirrel thing from Ice Age. You hear a lot of people whining and complaining about "not adding a power guy to the lineup" or "not going after (insert leading free agent candidate)". But Adam Smith's invisible hand isn't pointing at Alfonso Soriano or Daisuke Matsuzaka if you're the Minnesota Twins -- hell, it's invisible, so Dave St. Peter probably can't even see it. The economics of baseball demand that they as management and we as fans take a different tact.

No, during this time of selling hope and inspiration auctioning, the Twins will do nothing to make your tummy flutter like an emo kid upon the eve of the newest release by Fall Out Boy. They never have, and they never will. So why do so many still expect it? Their formula has remained consistent for many years, so do we expect things to change suddenly? New stadium revenue? The time is ripe, so we're required to go the extra mile? Compromising photos of Carl Pohlad? None of these are legitimate, so I say this: embrace the boredom. Yes, embrace it. And if you have to have a fanatical outlet, let it be to ridicule with scorny gloating and small-ball pride, every inflated crippling long-term contract, minor league decimating trade, and every incredibly transperent, false-hope motivated PR feint that the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Orioles, White Sox, and even the slightly less evil Tigers make. It will do a body good.

Let's be honest with ourselves. As much excitement and hope as it might create if Alfonso Soriano was starting in left field for the Twins next year, if we had signed him to an identical contract as the Cubs, it would be an absolute albatross in three years. It might be fun in the short term, but that's kind of like drunkenly hooking up with your roommate's hot younger sister. It's awesome in the short term, but sooner or later Alfonso's going to start getting WAY passive aggressive on your ass. Or even aggressive aggressive. And your friendship franchise is screwed for years to come.

Personally, when I see the Red Sox bid $51.1 Million Dollars (said in Dr. Evil voice)(and by the way, what's the extra &0.1M for?) for an unproven (no offense Japan) pitcher, JUST for the rights to shell out more money, it makes me smile. I'm imagining the dreams and expectations of all Red Sox players as an emormous sack of hope, and everytime they make a big ole fat move like this, it gets inflated to the point of breaching. And guess what? There's only one way for it to go from there....pffffft. I feed all that energy maniacally into cautious optimism and guarded expectancy, which is tough to do if you know what any of those words mean. Our Twins sack of hope is more like a handbag of hope (Prada or DKNY), in which we delicately file away Luis Castillos, chapsticks, and Jason Jenningseses, and watch them emerge in April and May before badmouthing them in July.

That's how we roll.

I suggest you roll the same.

The mighty Canadian has just won the North American League Most Valuable Player Award, and this simply cannot be...not...mentioned. Anyway. We are going to do our best Bounty impression, soaking up all the pundit goodness, before proclaiming the True nature of what this means for the future of humanity. And Canadianity. But in the meantime, to all you Jeter (actually pronounced "Jetter" (like 'petter') apparently -- according to WCCO anyway) backers out there (Hops), let me be the first to say...nah nah nanah nah.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Permutations and Complications

Gleeman has a new post up today with his top 10 A.L. MVP candidates. Suprisingly (to us), the battle came down to Jeter vs. Mauer, with the mighty Canadian a distant...10th? 10th!?
Luis Rodriguez did not appear, but I assume he's 11th.

This has stirred up a good deal of debate within the Tuesdays With Torii front offices, in parallel with the national mucky muck on this issue. Even the mail room clerks and college interns are all tirades and hissy fits today, extruding anger in gooey explitive-encased furniture-punching. And even though that is a questionable and confusing analogy, this appears to be one of the trickier MVP debates in recent memory, so irrational behavior and metaphors are probably no suprise.

Gleeman's argument relies on several mathematically-inclined postulates, as he is want to do, and clarified and indepthnified with trickier geometry. In other words...boring. Who wants to decide an MVP this way? Not us. That's why we didn't become astrophysicists know...we totally could have.

The TWT staff generally agrees (yeah, until you start reading the comments section) that when deciding, "Who is the best?", intangibles have to be a large part of the argument. Where are the categories for Memorable and/or Clutch Hits, I Can't Believe He Did Thats, Wow! Performances, and Instances of Gut Showing (not in a cut off t-shirt way -- I'm looking in your direction Matthew Lecroy)? Anyone who watched 90% of Twins games this year would HAVE to say that Morneau was the most valuable player on this team this year, even though he's not a middle defensive player with a superior OBP. Sure, on a national scale, intangible criteria like this gives an advantage to large market players, as more of the baseball-viewing populace probably gets to see these highlights, or watch their games on national television, or hear Brantley and Dibble drivel concerning said candidates, but I for one believe it still has to be a part of the equation. Baseball is about legends and myths and Bucky Fucking Dent stories, and not just about Value Over Replacement Player numbers.

Sure, I'm biased. Sure, I can't pick MVPs based on objective facts. But I also don't watch and enjoy baseball to construct clever algorithms. I don't watch it to constantly prove myself right about my own opinions. It's much more fun to be proven wrong.

Morneau for MVP.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Comeback Player of the Year?

Not F-Bomb, that has to wait until 2008. (Obama-Liriano 2008! You heard it here first).

I think trading dipshit for Dave is a definite upgrade as well. Britt's agent for executive of the year.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Awards Season

There are people out there who think Derek Jeter was the Most Valuable Player in the American League last year. Well, those people…are wrong.

Derek Jeter wants you to believe he’s more American than Justin Morneau. Well that’s a flat-out lie. Mr. Jeter, just ‘cuz your jersey says “Yankee” on it…doesn’t mean you’re more American than anyone else. Including Canadians.

Derek Jeter wants you to believe he’s a “team” player. Well, listen to what Alex Rodriguez…his own teammate…has to say about that,

“Derek Jeter is no great teammate. I often requested that he cover the entire left side of the infield so that I could focus on my hitting. He refused. EVERY TIME.”

Derek Jeter wants you to believe he’s an ambassador for the game of baseball. Well, Mr. Jeter…how many languages do you speak? One?…hmph. Here are the linguistic abilities of the other leading candidates: David Ortiz…two languages. Frank Thomas…two languages. Justin Morneau…speaks sixteen languages. Derek Jeter…you’re not the kind of ambassador we want.

Derek Jeter wants you to believe he doesn’t like to eat puppies and kitties. Well, we’re here to tell you…Derek Jeter definitely likes to eat puppies and kitties.

Vote Justin Morneau…it will make you more of an American. A North American.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Golden Guys

With baseball and Twins-specific news dwindling in the post-World Series doldrums, it would be downright stupid of us not to mention our namesake's recognition for defensive excellence. Coaches and managers have decided he's wonderfully defensive. He's as defensive as Denny Green after a bad loss. He's defensive as John Kerry. He's a gold glover once again -- for the sixth time -- putting him in the company of Kirby and Jim Kaat for Twins with at least 6 gold gloves.

This may not have been Torii's best season out in the field, but I'm willing to forgive a little due to injury. Reading the quotes from Torii in the above Strib article has me all a'twitter about the possibility of a healthy Hunter patrolling the centerturf grounds once again next year. It was painful to watch him gimp around this season, given the high standard he's set for himself. Football fans watching Troy Williamson with a Moss-worldview know what I'm talking about. But the rest of baseball still thinks he's pretty damn good, and one highly visible post-season blunder doesn't seem to have drastically affected their views. Perhaps this is testament to the fact that no one remembers you when you lose in the division series, even just a month removed. And besides, is there a better candidate in the AL? I can think of better candidates at 2B and C, I can tell you that much.

In Florida, more cryptic news abounds. I'm so sick of this story, and the glimmer of hope each identical version of it brings. But I can't help but click on every headline link, hoping and praying for a miracle. And I'm not talking about this kind of Miracle. Just tell me that his arm fell off in a tragic smelting accident, so I can start thinking about the Slowey-era to come and how cool it will be to see F-bomb's glowing golden limb in the dugout. He's Dutch. Isn't that weird? Frankie can borrow one of Torii's gold gloves to accessorize properly. The free agent pitching market is going to be pathetic and a healthy Liri-elbow next year would be oh so nice, but at this point there's so little accomplished by expecting anything out of him. Part of the frustration is likely due to the fact that we expect doctors to correctly identify what's wrong and be able to fix it, but I suppose that's not realistic. They're not superheroes, after all. Except for that Dr. Charles Xavier guy. He was pretty cool. But I hear this Dr. Yocum has no psionic powers whatsoever.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Where's Garth Iorg When You Need Him?

Our timeliness in commenting on the World Series is matched only by our interest level...which is to say both scored at Gary Russell level lows

An overdue, "congratulations" to the Cardinals and their fans. (Particularly any that may be related to me in one fashion or another) And a big “thank-you” for taking the 1987 Twins off the hook as being the “worst” team to win a World Series. This was one of those rare times when all the bullshit about getting no respect may actually fit…everyone thought the well-rested Tigers would roll. C’est la Vie.

Warm and fuzzies aside…boy did that World Series suck. There was potential for late-inning drama, if only the Tiger pitchers could have held onto the ball. (I’m too tired to even make a Kenny Rogers joke here) Was anyone outside the Cardinal dugout truly excited when they kept scoring runs off of errant throws? Fortune is a necessary ingredient to success…but it makes for a more satisfying meal when accompanied by 9th inning rallies and lights-out pitching. And a team from New York, obviously.

What now? Well, while trying like hell not to become a Wild fan, I’ll be checking in on the hot-stove action…waiting for Justin Morneau to be named MVP, Johan Cy-Young, and Kyle Lohse Comeback Player of the Year.

Possible upcoming posts include a rant on steroids in baseball vs. football, and a three-part essay on who would win a game of NHL ’94 between present-day Smitty and time-gone-by Smitty.

Check here for a nice take on some additional off-season story lines.

And be sure to checkout the Strib’s four-parter on Kirby.

Lastly, just to remind everyone I’m a bearded socialist…this is fun.

Monday, October 23, 2006

You Got To Know When To Hold It

There was a baseball game last night. A World Series game, in fact.

However, there was also an “incident”. An “occurence”. Something, that if true, could possibly sully the purity and virtue that is Baseball’s Fall Classic.

Anyone watching the game knows what we're talking about…Kenny Rogers pooped on his hand.

In fact, he's been doing it for years. The photo above shows that he did it in the ALCS this year (left panel), before doing it again last night (right panel). It is a strange and rare affliction. An offshoot of Alzheimer's (our medical experts tell us) and a sad underreported medical condition.

That is the only logical explanation for what happened. If he was attempting to cheat, why put the “substance” in a place so obvious to anyone with functioning sight? If he was attempting to cheat, why would the umps and Tony LaRussa not demand that the “substance” be examined instead of just washed-off. Know why? ‘Cuz the substance was poop. Who wants to examine that?

The only reason they had to talk about it after the game was because the cameras caught it. Everyone was embarrassed and had to come up with something other than the truth…in fact, if the media keeps pressing on this, we fully expect Kenny Rogers to admit to cheating…only to avoid having to admit that he pooped on his hand. Which would you choose?

C’mon Kenny…tell us the truth…you're not alone.

Oh by the way, the Tigers won the game.

Other famous people who suffer from the same affliction:

The real reason we invaded Iraq

Think Howie got beat legitimately by Kerry in the Iowa caucus? Think again.

Self-important attention whore? Nope. Brilliant PR gambit to deflect focus from the tragic truth. You think the night vision in that video was an accident?

You think any self respecting athlete nay the best passer in NFL history, would endorse Isotoner gloves ON PURPOSE? Hell no.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Does Jodie Foster like brownies?

Came across an interesting Carl Sagan quote on marijuana:

There is a myth about such highs, the user has an illusion of great insight, but it does not survive scrutiny in the morning. I am convinced that this is an error, and that the devasting insights while high are real insights; the main problem is putting these insights in a form acceptable to the quite different self that we are when we’re down the next day….If I find in the morning a message from myself the night before informing me that there is a world around us which we barely sense, or that we can become one with the universe, or even that certain politicians are desperately frightened men, I may tend to disbelieve; but when I’m high I know about this disbelief. And so I have a tape in which I exhort myself to take such remarks seriously. I say, “Listen closely, you sonofabitch of the morning! This stuff is real!”

The essay from which this was taken comes from a book called Marihuana Reconsidered by Lester Grinspoon, and was published in 1971. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that Mr. Sagan was talking about me. Then again, this was a guy who talked to himself via a tape recorder…so you never know. In any case, it has become apparent to me that I was high on marijuana for the entirety of major league baseball’s regular season.

You see, I’m clearly the “sonofabitch of the morning” right now. I’m watching the playoffs, sort of. But I’m completely unexcited by any of the goings on. Where’s the drama? After Fox fired Steve Lyons for being unfunny, I was desperately hoping they’d bring Joe Carter in the booth…just so at the end of every game he could say, “Yep, if I were playing, I’d get a HUGE hit right here”.

I don’t discount the fact that I’m naturally less involved because my team is out of it. It is also very busy at work right now, and so I don’t have much time during the day for general baseball musing. But Jebus…it is the Playoffs! There’s no way Tim McCarver has sullied this time of year that completely for me. It must be the drugs. Or rather, the now complete lack of drugs.

Tracing back, I can tell you exactly when it happened. When it was that I got high. And, as usual, it’s mostly Kaiser’s fault. It must have been on June 13th, sometime just before the Twins/Red Sox game started….because by the time Johan struck out six of the first seven batters, it was evident that something was up. The deep clarity I felt just before Jason Kubel hit a game winning, twelfth-inning grand slam merely solidified the obvious…I was at one with the baseball universe.

Why Kaiser’s fault? Because it was in his basement. And because he “grew” stuff down there. The only logical conclusion was that something had seeped into the walls, and from there absorbed into my inner consciousness. And it’s no coincidence that he doesn’t live there anymore and I’m really fucking bored by these playoffs.

Would I feel the same way if I was a Cardinal or a Tiger fan? Probably not. But, while I’m happy for Tiger Nation, I can’t convince myself that their run has been terribly interesting.

I have no intention of joining Sagan, Plato, Picasso, Hemmingway, or any of our other great users (wait, Hemmingway drank right? I’m totally joining him) any time soon…so I’ll have to settle for good baseball and rooting for the Cardinals. (and live vicariously through my wife and her family)

But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I wish Joe Carter, Kirby, or Mookie would show up soon and force me to remind myself in the morning, THIS STUFF IS REAL!


Hops asked for it yesterday, so here it is today. The punishment meted out by the University of Miami for Larry Coker. You better watch yourself FIU, because I hear the other Van Gundy is also available.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Would the Muzak Have Calmed Him Down?

Add me to the list of folks piling on the absurdity that was the Miami football riot last weekend. An excerpt from the color commentator (former Miami footballer Lamar Thomas)

"Now, that's what I'm talking about," Thomas said as the brawl raged out of control. "You come into our house, you should get your behind kicked. You don't come into the OB playing that stuff. You're across the ocean over there. You're across the city. You can't come over to our place talking noise like that. You'll get your butt beat. I was about to go down the elevator to get in that thing."

It seems that all the media outrage is actually doing some good, as the initial, ridiculous punishments are getting harsher by the day.

I don’t pretend to be a college football expert, but I’m pretty sure kicking your opponent in the head is at least a ten yard penalty. That’s just dumb football. The NCAA needs to step in and meter out SEVERE punishment…to the coaches for the complete lack of control, to the players for the lack of discipline, and the schools for their complete lack of perspective. The NCAA has rarely managed to be out front of any issue that confronts college athletics. (See Knight, Bobby; Stupidity, BCS; Athletes, “Student”) But here’s a chance to make this truly the last time we see something this out-of-control on a college football field. Give the University of Miami the “death penalty”. Harsh? Yes. And so is kicking someone in the head. And so is wielding your helmet like a damn billy club.

Oh, and if Miami has the stones to fire Larry you think Glen Mason would consider taking the job? (crossing fingers)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Is he the best?

Joy to the world, Gardy is one of us for three more years (add all the staff guys). Glad to see it. He definately deserves it, not only for the last year but all the previous years. 5 straight winning seasons, 4 playoff appearances, 4 division titles. This begs a question, is he the best manager in Twins history? Let's be more specific, is he the best in Twins history, not including the Washington years. I'd rather not see an argument on how Walter Johnson had three 90 win season's during the Great Depression.

I think the answer to is not really that difficult to me. Flat no. Second best, yes. It's hard to say TK ant' the best we've seen. Sure his overall record is under .500, but he's got two fat rings, his thumb-print all over the franchise still, a whole hell of a lot of respect from baseball peeps and a big chaw of tabacky that says he's the king. Granted we haven't had very many managers. Gardy's production is obviously second to none (only manager in franchise history with 5 straight winning seasons), but TK is everywhere.

Could anyone have hit Wainwright's curveball last night? Well, not Beltran. Molina 2-run dong in the 9th, bases loaded, 2 outs & maybe the NL MVP at the plate. What a finish. With that said, Tigers in 5.

Friday, October 13, 2006

To Alcohol, the cause of and solution to...all of life's problems

Hops has alerted me to the fact (beknownst but unbecaredabout by me -- until now) that Vin Baker has been given a try-out for the sports rooting interest that I consider to be my sports friend with benefits right now, the Timberwolves of Minnesota. Usually every fall we get togther when optimism is high and have an orgiastic make-out session in my living room, but then when reality sets in, we start to look at each other like, "Really? THIS is what I was so excited about two weeks ago?" And then we stop calling, and stop writing, and make excuses like, "Sorry KG, but I have a really early meeting tomorrow, so I can't stay up and watch you not come up big in the fourth quarter tonight. How's that first round draft pick working out for you? Oh, he broke his leg? I'll totally call you next week for sure." We drift apart. But every so often we check in again with each other just to see how things are going, and occassionally we might rekindle the flame in late May or early July just for a bit. A little playoff nookie. It's usually brief. But it just seems like the Twolves are good at friendship and terrible at intimacy, because we just can't get close anymore. Still, they're my team, and as someone who played approximately a gadzillion hours of basketball from 4th grade on up, such a defining part of my life for so long, they do have a special place in my sports heart. KG is my Johan or F-bomb -- I'd watch them anytime.

But is this a good idea Timberwolves management? Is this possibly going to end well? Is Korin Robinson's agent now representing Vin Baker? And just how many Schlitz Ice's will Vin have to celebrate his first 10 pt, 10 rebound night in this latest comeback attempt into the NBA?

I'm all for giving people second chances, but in the context of sports, this has always been a tricky issue in mind. So much of sports is chemistry driven, and as much as players like to say they aren't distracted by media-driven controversies, it has to play some role. If you're not familiar with Baker's story, go check out the article with the always present caveat in sports fandom that while you can be familiar with the reported circumstances of these situations, they are probably much more complicated in reality. But sometimes you just get the feeling that the problem is too big to just go away quietly. And this feels pungently like one of those situations. It's so pungent I can smell it. It's piquant.

While I'm tempted to go off on how Korin Robinson's situation seemed so much different (as in, I was shocked that he lapsed -- he had me thoroughly convinced he had changed, had so much to stay clean for), the realization is dawning on me that this is a baseball-centric blog, and perhaps we should bring things back in that direction. So some questions. Why is alcohol abuse not more prevalent in baseball? Or am I just forgetting a few of the notable ones? Doesn't it seem like notable drinkers in baseball (Ruth, Mantle, David Wells) are never cast in a negative light (like football players), but rather the drinking is sort of a humorous part of their legend? Does Jack Daniels have negative side effects when mixed with human growth hormone? Who would be the all-time shotgun champion in Twins history (and don't say Matthew LeCroix because he's not a real baseball player)? Does Lew Ford drink appletinis?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

C(wh)or(e)porate Schmorporate

It'd be a tragedy of Elizabethian proportions for us not to say something about our namesake getting re-upped for next season. Torii Hunter in a contract year? It's like deja vu all over again. I, for one, think that given the circumstances (1 yr, 12 mil for those not in the know -- and with Terry Ryan reporting yesterday that the payroll is likely to increase slightly next year too) justice has been done here. Sure, we're biased. We don't want to have to change our name to Monday's with Morneau, because frankly, that doesn't make a lot of sense. Unless Mitch Albom pens a new novel in the very near future. But without inside knowledge of the situation, Two I's alleged falling off in the field this year (bronze glove fielding?) could as easily be due to injury as past-his-primeness. I mean, I've never broken my ankle on the Green Monster before, but I'd be willing to guess it takes a little time to recover from that. Add in his monster-like performance at the plate the last six weeks of the season, and I think it's a done deal.

Of course, this is all qualified with the statement that any season-long, long-term contract begging, thereby cancer-izing the Twins clubhouse next year by the Soul Patrol's finest immediately reverses my stance. I'm like Norm Coleman or an obstinate acrobat that way. I flip when I want to.

In other news, baseball is still going on. It was news to me too. Seriously though, this version of the baseball playoffs has been pretty intriguing so far. The evil MFY's have been eliminated, yet somehow an irresponsible rumor monger kept them in the spotlight for just a moment longer. The other Torre is still where he belongs. And who are you trying to fool? There's a better chance that Barry Bonds is innocent then an A-Rod trade this off-season. The A's are doing there best Twins impression so far in the ALCS, and the Tigers their best...well, First-Half of the 2006 Season Tigers impression. Large market loving front-running types can still pretend that the Mets are an underdog, because (shockingly) their geriatric pitching staff is stuck in the pharmacy line waiting for their Medicare checks to come through, while Cardinals fans finally have some reason for optimism again. Pujols is Tivo-able by himself. While there is admittedly evil in the playoffs (Larussa's ego, NY's payroll, Billy Beane's Billy Beane-ness), there is plenty to care about. I just hope when they dump Gatorade on Jim Leyland's corpse later this month, he remembers how to smile.

Lastly, this piece of news from the (hated) White Sux camp. Are you kidding me? I was just starting to like you guys (not really) and now you go and do something like this? Now, I really hate you (more). How much do I have to donate in ad dollars for you to relist everyone in the program as 6'2"?

Oh, and by the way...TWT isn't going anywhere for the winter. It's snowing outside and I'm scared to go out there. We will instead heat ourselves with the warm glowing warming glow of our laptops.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Sorry about this one

First of all, what up Coop? Thanks for reading and big thanks to you and the ship mates.

Second, and I apologize for this one, but there has been some discussion with the other TWT writers about the recent Yankee crap regarding Torre, A-Rod and even Jeter.
Not that this will surprise anyone who knows me, but I've already started looking at my Fantasy Baseball draft strategy for next year (for those counting, I finished 1st and 3rd in my two leagues). Due to all the press on the Yankees, I was curious as to "Is A-Rod the #2 or #3 pick next year?" I say he still is. His stats are still ridiculous, .285-35-120 or something like that.

With that said, fantasy stuff has nothing to do with real baseball, it's just another stat junkies way to gamble. However, I do think it's unfair to put all the Yankee woe's on A-Rod. Sure he's an idiot from time to time, twitches too much after every ball/strike and think's alittle too highly of himself, but he had a better year then Giambi, Posada, and Damon. So what that he didn't hit in the playoffs, what did Cano do? He finished 3rd in AL in average and didn't have a hit in the playoffs (well, he didn't through 3 games). Then Torre gets blamed for this stuff. Hey, not his fault his GM/Owner refuse to get pitchers that can actually pitch.

The Yankee inability to win the Series in recent years (I refuse to call it a "downfall" when you make the playoffs every year and have the highest payroll) falls on Cashman and more importantly Steinberner. I love that Torre told him (Steinbrenner) this year to stop complaining to the press about players. I think Torre realizes that they haven't given him a "team" since the late '90's. Sure they can hit, but the defense is OK and their pitching, well, come on.

Torre is an excellent manager, A Rod is an idoit but still one of the top 5 or 6 players around. Cashman is a tool and Steinbrenner is too full of himself. I just hope he doesn't realize what a good GM we have, drops a couple bags of cash on his lap and says, "Well, how about a trip to the dark side?"

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Play Mad

Most Twins fans are sitting at work, school, or home today wondering what the hell just happened. Irritated seeing a team of surfer boys still wondering who has the Cheetos and who's turn is it in the "rotation" come into our house where we don't lose in the playoffs and beat us at our game. Solid pitching, solid defense and timely hitting. I'm not going to harp on Torii and his play. The man has won 5 Gold Gloves, changes games and momentum with those catches and was a big reason that the Twins won the Central. That doesn't leave him unaccountable for the play, but if Torii believes he can get a ball then he should have the right to go get it. Wish he would have picked a different time in the game though.

Were the Twins looking past the A's? Possibly. Did the little ole A's come into Dome and rock the Twins/fans right in the gut? You damn right. So how do we remedy this? Easy, do what Boof does and play mad.

Forget about the Yankees. Forget the Gammons picked you to win the Series two straight years. Forget that you were the best team since June 1. Look at the A's and say "kiss my ass". Remember that you have the highest batting average in the AL and remember the A's love to choke 2-0 leads away. Forget that the number of runners in scoring positon left on equals approximately China's national census. Start smelling those RBI's, bunting guys over, stealing bases and annoying the other teams managing staff. Punch them back damn it.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Unsolicited Advice

1: Don’t pitch to Frank Thomas
(Okay, got that out of the way…we won’t discuss again)

2: Don’t pitch to Frank Thomas
(Whoops…maybe just one more so we don’t forget)

3: Have Justin Morneau grow a playoff beard

4: Have Jesse Crain shave his

5: Take a page out of the Oakland playbook and have everyone take two bong hits before the game…we were too jittery yesterday

6: Instead of waiting until the 8th and 9th innings to stage a meaningful rally…try waiting until the 12th, see how that works

7: If Johan Santana wants to pitch again today, let him

8: If Johan Santana wants to DH today, let him

9: Replace “We’re going to win Twins, we’re going to score” with “We really go after them, that’s how we play…we’re not going to change what we do now…sometimes we’re gonna get thrown out, but we’re gonna keep getting after ‘em, We’re going to score”

10: Two words…Mike Redmond

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Love Affair Continues

I love going to the Chicago Tribune website and seeing a picture of Jim McMahon in a Cubs jersey. I love that no one cares about the White Sox in Chicago. I love that Gullien "believes" many people were happy not to see them succeed this year. Duh.

I love that the old face of the Twins started the game showing why we have loved him and the new face of the Twins shows why we are all crushing on him (Prior who?). I love that we have three players on the roster being mentioned for MVP candidates and the fact someone from a big market has be named.

I love the fact Rick Anderson said the Yankees have a terrible bullpen (a sports guy doesn't use cliche and people are surprised when he tells the truth) and ant' no one scared of that team. I love parity in baseball. Big contracts might give you more consistence on a year to year basis, but the excitement's not the same.

I love that OCB is still a sponsor at the Dome, but miss seeing the OCBee out there with the kids replaceing the bases then not wanting to go back and stand by him to wave. Let's bee honest, kind of a scary looking mascot.

I want to play the Yankees, I need to play the Yankees in the first round. There are reasons for playing them later, but let's be honest, if you want to make the World Series it goes through New York. Might go through New York twice this year for AL teams. The icing on the cake for the year would be a Central Divison crown, but this team makes me want more. I want that chocolate layer, that second tier cake to put on top of the icing. I need to play the Yankees and beat them.

Bring on the Yankees. Lew Ford and I got the McDonalds Orange drink, bring yo-self to the party.

I Can't Stop Smiling

There's a lot of Bradke love going on out there right now, and Tuesday's With Torii is no exception. Can you feel us egressing enchantment? Okay, now that you've looked up 'egress' to make sure it's a real word, can you?

A few of the notables:



Twinkie Town

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Stage 1 Complete

This photo reprinted without permission from Star Tribune dot
com, so suck it lawyers.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I'm the One They Call the Big Papi

With my in-state co-conspirators alternately wrapped up in fruit and financial planning pursuits, I've been left to fend for myself somewhat this week. All alliteration aside (whoops), Tuesdays With Torii (can't stop) pauses with pursed lips (damn) and breaths a heavy sigh of relief and proclaims the playoffs a done deal (okay I'm done, I swear). We're in baby. I'm writing my, in the words of the great Zoolander, yougoogily for the Bitch Sox right now. What was YOUR fondest moment and how shall we choose to remember them in the afterlife?

And in my comrades literary (but not spiritual) absence from TwinsMania, my thoughts turn to our remote cousin of the north and Red Sox lover, affectionately known as Pooh. Sure it fills me with glee to see Torii regain, well...let's say return to a form we have long desired but which has eluded us through ankle injuries and compensating for said ankle injuries lo these many months. For Torii these streaks are fervid and flimsy, the consistency of a soap bubble you don't dare to touch. But his recent surge could NOT have come at a better time for our fair team and has, as Mauer and Liriano before him, provided an individual spark serving to ignite the piranha kindling elsewhere in the lineup. I hope this campfire keeps burning well into November, long after we have splurged on Smores and accidentally fallen asleep in front of it. No real risk of forest fires in October anyway.

The Pooh Sox however, are a horse of a different color right now. A bloody sock red. They are battered and beaten, and while my Twins-loving heart doesn't mind catapaulting into a division title, it does hurt just a little that we do it in Boston, that Yankee celebrations come at our hands, and that I must cheer for Big Papi ineptitude for inertia. Because you see, I don't love Big Papi, I'm IN love with him. He hit a landmark 50th homerun last night and got a well-deserved curtain call. I got the same warm kind of feeling seeing that, as during other notable curtain calls in the Dome this year (Joe Mauer 5 for 5 night; F-bomb's last pitch) -- knowledgeable fans recognizing greatness. These moments are even better, however, when the person in question is a just a flat-out awesome human being. You won't hear about any fuzzy feelings for certain other former Twins who might be in that situation. They shall remain nameless. I'll call him simply A. J. know...protect his anonymity. Sure Big Papi is The One That Got Away. He's the 41 in a 30 on Terry Ryan's otherwise perfect driving record. But there is no love lost for Papi from Twins fans, and I for one get a particular joy from seeing him excel. Even if it isn't for my team.

Here's hoping you hit 10 more this season Papi Gigante. And if a non-Morneau has to win the MVP this year, here's hoping it's you. No tengo tiempo para Jeter.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

And now for something completely different...

....a segment we like to call: Jogging Diary (it'd be a Running Diary, but my knees don't work so well anymore, so I can't really run). More or less, this is probably what I'd say to Hops or Smitty if they happened to be sitting next to me watching this game, but now you dear reader have to suffer through it.

Event: Jogging Diary of Twins vs. Red Sox, Game 1
Date: Tuesday, September 19th (all times are CST)
Location: Comfy lime green couch in front of new 42" high-def plasma TV (aka. Nirvana)

6:00 pm -- Whoaaaaa Nelllllyyyyy!!! Welcome to casa de Kaiser where we're coming to you semi-live from my laptop computer. We're starting a key six game stretch on the road against Pooh's suffering squad, the Scarlet Stockings. Does anyone in Beantown care about this team right now since there are no more Yankees games on the schedule?
6:07 -- Top 1st: Cuddy takes a 79 mph fastball for strike three. Seriously, how crazy does a knuckle ball have to be to have a sub-80 mph fastball be an effective "counter pitch"? This guy is a carnival ride. He's the windmill in the minature golf course that is major league baseball.
6:16 -- Bottom 1st: Crisp lines out hard to Bartlett and mutters something under his breath. My best guess is a that he's doing some kind of furtive Bert Blyleven impression. Coco Crisp, Milton Bradley, and Boof Bonser. Best names in baseball and newspaper headline writer everywhere's best friends. Garza sails through the inning.
6:21 -- Commercial Break: I discover this article. I'm as shocked that the first transplant of this kind was attempted in China as seeing Torii Hunter take a first pitch strike. Ditto for Lew Ford seeing action in the playoffs.
6:24 -- Top 2nd: Morneau hits a lead-off double off the Green Monster. Taking notes east coast-biased sportswriters? Rondell White follows it up shortly thereafter with an RBI single off said Monster and P.T. Wakefield is struggling early. He then proceeds to throw two wild pitches, although one was technically a walk. The moral, as always: being Doug Mirabelli sucks ass. Is there any other person who is so typecast in baseball and has such a specific role? The only possible exception I can think of is Matthew Lecroix in his comic relief role as catcher. That gets the job done every time. Bartlett adds a three-run home run on another "sneaky" fastball. Piranha, my ass. I hope my running diary momentum doesn't run out.
6:46 -- The Burgundy Hosiery go down quickly in the second, and Garza is looking solid so far. I read somewhere today that he is getting something like 1.0 runs per inning in run support as a starter this year. Tummy Ache's getting like what...10 per game or something? Yeah, gimme the youngster for the post-season, Silva second half "resurgence" or not. Every game down the stretch magnifies every performance, and Silva still seems more trend than mirage to me at this point. Garza at least had the butterflies excuse to explain away the first couple starts.
6:49 -- Top 3rd: Morneau singles to right for his second hit. How many does Papi have tonight? I forget. I'm sure he'll read off his boxscore for the assembled media after the game though. As well as the box scores of all Yankee players except for Derek Jeter. Hunter with a two-run shot that is a line drive over the wall. Those seats above the Monster are dangerous tonight. Hope they have insurance up there. Or some seriously reinforced cupholders.
6:53 -- Hey hey! It's the Ron Coomer show! Coomer almost gets hit by a foul ball, boyishly asks Scotty Ulger for a glove on camera so he can defend himself, to which Bert replies, "We've seen you field Ron. You're probably better off without one." Coomer than goes on to explain how he had so much success hitting knuckleballers. I believe it had something to do with Schlitz Lite and an Armenian prostitute named Mena. But I may not have been paying full attention. Twins lead 6-0.
7:01 -- Garza cruising. 45 pitches. He's Corvette-like.
7:04 -- Seriously. Go read that article I linked to earlier. That's the funniest thing I've read in awhile. He lost his pediddly in "an unfortunate traumatic accident". My mind is racing with possibilities.
7:05 -- Top 4th: Loretta makes a nice play at second on Piranha #4. Tim Wakefield is really "showcasing" his spectacular Red Sox defense. Way to be a team player.
7:07 -- Wakefield is taken out after walking Piranha Punto. Good effort. Some call him....Tim.
7:08 -- MSNBC article update. It took a "15 hour microsurgery" to attach the unit. Sure, rub it in. The guy just went through an unspecified trauma for christ's sake!
7:10 -- I just saw the graphic of the Fenway park footprint on Gamecast (for stats, you know). Man that park has got some messed up shit going on. No wonder Torii hurt his ankle there last year. He probably got lost in the outfield looking for that fly ball. Baby Jesus grounds out to end the half-inning.
7:14 -- David Ortiz makes a case for Justin Morneau for MVP by striking out on a bad check swing, just after Bert makes a Garza and Ortiz comparison. Talk about bad karma. (they both once played in Ft. Meyers)(For the record, so have I)(but it was ultimate frisbee)
7:17 -- Matt Garza is a cruise missle.
7:21 -- M-V-P! M-V-P! Third hit for Morneau.
7:23 -- It's raining. Finish the inning! Finish the inning! Strike out Torii Hunter! I KNOW you can do it! Damn you Torii! (single to right) Is it good when I'm honestly debating whether it would be a good thing for Rondell White to tap into a double play on purpose right now? (and he tried, but Loretta f'ed it up)
7:30 -- Garza gives up a single that was drilled to center, and a line shot to left immediately after ,to lead off the inning. I don't like to be the kind of guy that cheers for an inning to be over and a game called because of rain but given the circumstances here at the end of the year, I can't really be blamed, right? Right? I thought Garza was cruising! I was going to call him the Royal Garza Caribbean and make jokes about food poisoning and getting lost at sea. (sob)
7:38 -- All right the good ship Garza only gives up one and the game is official. Now, where is Mark Walberg and that perfect storm?
7:39 -- More from MSNBC. The donated organ was from a 22-yr old brain-dead man. I guess he was thinking with his you-know-what too much. (bum bum bump) The appendage was 4 inches long. (insert own joke here)
7:49 -- Ortiz hits a foul ball 763 feet to oohs and ahs from the Fenway crowd before striking out to Garza. I feel Morneau for MVP momentum building. In the other race, Mauer is 1 for 4 and Jeter is apparently 0 for 2 elsewhere.
7:58 -- Garza strikes out two, but gives up a run and gets yanked. Probably for the best because the only other "cruise" references I can think of are Tom Cruise and Santa Cruz, and I can't figure out how to connect them to 22-yr old rookie pitcher Matt Garza. Good work, young man.
8:04 -- Back to the MSNBC article. It describes the wife's "psychological rejection" of the, wang. Isn't that what they call "marriage"?
8:07 -- Morneau gets his fourth hit, and somewhere Bob Ryan is suddenly confused about who to vote for. Please reference earlier MVP conversation. Seriously, if JustinTimeToGetScrewedByTheNationalMedia gets his average to like .340 and the Twins win the division will he get serious consideration then? Hello? Hello? Is this mic on? Twins up 6-3 heading into the bottom of the 7th.
8:19 -- Detroit-White Sox update. The hated A.J. hits a grand slam to put the Sox up 4-0. As I said before, I'm all for two Pale Hoes victories in this series, so kudos to you sir. The always popular take-care-of-your-own-business-and-don't-worry-about-others conversation starts up in the broadcast booth. Love that one. Oh wait, makes me want to vomit in my own trachiotomy hole.
8:26 -- Random thought: Does Ortiz need to do that spit-on-the-hands thing before he bats when it's downpouring?
8:27 -- Yes.
8:29 -- Rain, falling. Reyes, dominating lefties. Urge to write, fading.
8:33 -- (feigning interest)
8:38 -- Reyes gets a big double play but gets taken out after giving up a single. Call me crazy, but Reyes might end up being the biggest x-factor for the Twins in the playoffs, especially if they play the left-handed-batter-heavy Yankees (or A's for that matter). You heard it here first folks. Let's go Rincon.
8:46 -- Varitek is up as the tying run. That rain delay is seeming like a pretty good option right now. Punto with a HUGE catch on a foul out. Love that guy.
8:59 -- Speaking of loving that guy, Justin (MVP) M(VP)orneau (MVP) gets his 5th hit (MVP) and 3rd double (MVP) of the night for an insurance (MVP) run (MVP) in (MV(MVP)P) the (MVP) ninth (you get the idea). That would be 5 for 5 ladies and gentlemen. I love THAT guy.
9:10 -- Twins win. Twins win. Nathan gets a little work in in the ninth (striking out Ortiz to finish), Morneau is good, and I have a man crush on Nick Punto. Elsewhere, the defending world champs are winning, and we may be 1/2 game back in 20 minutes or so. Optimism flocks to Twinsland like the salmon of Capistrano.

All right, I've probably blathered on long enough, but I'm willing to call the debut of "Jogging Diary" Liriano-like in its early success and promise for the future. My speculations are sliders. My metaphors change-ups. My linking to MSNBC articles.....disturbing (ulnar ligament tears?). All kidding aside, Justin Morneau may have done himself good by having a huge ballgame in a slightly larger setting than the Minnesota Medialopolis. Like I said earlier, everything is magnified late in the season, and having huge games in key situations is a good way to get noticed. Taking the "Morneau for MVP" position would be just the kind of anti-stance that seems typical of many sportswriters. Come on Bob Ryan. Start writing that column.

Peace in the middle east.

Monday, September 18, 2006

State of Twindom

I have to say that one of my favorite parts of this season has been the National League wild card "race". I guess, if I was to be picky with my vocabulary choices, "race" might not be the best choice. Hence the quotation marks. It is less like a race and more like an election so far, where we choose to support the lesser of evils just to watch them get blown out in the general election, and in this case all the kooky party candidates are still in the running for the primary. The candidates that college kids snicker about and dare their friends to vote for. In the NL even Green Party candidates San Franscisco, and the Free People's Movement of Florida Marlins still have a chance, and they were 20 games under five hundred this year. Everytime Baseball Tonight throws up that NL wild card graphic on the screen I giggle just a little. And then make sure my roommate wasn't looking. By the way, I'm pretty sure the Chicago Cubs are the Hamas of the National League -- everybody loves them but they just can't get the job done.

Meanwhile far away in other part of town (Ruben Carter and a couple of friends are drivin' around), our beloved Twins seem to have a strangle-hold on the AL wild card, and it seems like only Mike Sweeney can pry our fingers off its neck. Maybe a couple of guys named Schilling and Beckett could factor into it too, but it seems as if they may have blew their emotional wad early just trying to be spoil sports for the MFY's. Baby Jeesus and his batting title hopes thank you. But seriously, I'm more frightened of that four gamer at home against the Royals than the prior two series at Boston and Baltimore. This version of the Twins has been SO plucky in difficult situations, in games they're not supposed to win, and in games against pitchers they've had a history of losing to, but then they go and blow a few of the "easy ones". The Royals series preceding a final homestand against the Sox seems like such an easy situation to be in "Let's just beat these chumps these four games easy and build an unsurmountable lead before the Sox get here" mode. Dangerous.

This stage of the season also brings another interesting debate to the forefront. The Ligers have a three-gamer against the Sox today, tomorrow, and Wednesday, raising one of my favorite debates...the "Who do we cheer for?" controversy. As if the sheer force of our mental fury could cause Pierzynski liners to take bad bounces over Brandon Inge's glove. Maybe this is what meditation is really all about, although the lack of Olympic gold medals in highly meditative countries probably belies that argument. And if it did work, I bet you would have seen an inordinate amount of yoga studios springing up in Boston prior to 2003. For my part, avoiding the Yankees in the first round seems like a sliced-bread level brilliant idea at this point, especially given the possibility of a Radke recovery and an A's matchup. When is winning the division something you want to ever avoid anyway? So I say we're looking for a 2-1 series win by the Sox -- good for them and good for us, but not TOO good for them. And we still get to play (crush) them the last three games at home where the Twinks have been the best team in baseball this year, Silva and Baker look surgent (as opposed to REsurgent), and Johan has been unbeatable, and looks like is in line to finish the series off. But would we rather have him start Game 1 of a playoff series?

To the Yankees, Tigers, White Sox, and A's I say...
Bring it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Will the Twins lose another game?

Answer: Yes, but only because, having already clinched a playoff spot, they will forfeit the last three games against the White Sox for fear that A.J. will “fall” into every hitter causing a rash of sprained ankles.

Is Jason Tyner the best DH in the game right now?

Answer: Yes, but only because David Ortiz, in an effort to garner MVP support, has decided to become the Red Sox new closer.

Who’s up after Torii Hunter?

Answer: The other team. (sorry Torii, I love that one)

How many slider’s will F-Bomb throw in his first start back?

Answer: One, and Gardy will pull him.

Will Justin Morneau win the MVP?

Answer: No, he’s Canadian. Not eligible

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

And We'll See You Tomorrow Night

The Twins took three of four from the Tigers (and one from the A’s) and currently find themselves 1 ½ games out in front of the wild card chase and 1 ½ games back for the division lead. The offense has shown signs of life, our pitching staff is still The Best In The Game and Joheezy is suddenly finding himself smack-dab in a Mid-west bias created battle for the MVP. Love it. Love it. Love it.

Despite all this, I’d have to say that the most important recent baseball event is the fact that I am now an official collector of Twins bobbleheads.

Okay…”collector” is a tremendous stretch, as I have no intention of ever doing this again. But there I was, at 3:00 on Saturday (6:10 first pitch) standing in an already amazingly long line waiting for my turn to be handed a child’s knick-nack version of Jack Morris. (Having never done this before, I didn’t know that showing up three hours before gametime is the equivalent of being “fashionably late”)

As one of the 400,000 people that actually attended Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, Jack Morris has always had an odd place in the sports ventricle of my heart. Absolutely hated him when he was with the Tigers…loved him for most of 1991, particularly for 10 innings that October…and then hated him again when he ran to Toronto.

Things that go through your mind while standing in a really long line with other delusional adults waiting for a child’s toy:

“How long have these people with stubble and lawn chairs been here?”
“Why aren’t there any beer vendors?”
“How frightening is it that the two old guys behind me know SO much about high school football. Is there somewhere I should be turning them in to?”
“Ohh…right…THIS is why my wife decided to stay at home.”

In the end, very little of my pessimism seemed to matter.

While watching the Saturday game of the last Yankees series with my dad, we both heard (for the first time) the advertisement for “Jack Morris Bobblehead Day”. As one of the other 400,000 people at that game, he looked at me as soon as the ad ended and, without missing a beat, said, “you’re going to that game”. Please notice the lack of a question mark.

So I find myself in brief possession of recreated plastic glory. Brief, because in less than 24hrs Mr. Morris will find himself in Texas…on the desk of my father, nodding along to the vibrant rythms of the insurance business. Do they make Bobble-Armadillos? They should.

Best of luck to Matty “Please God, Let Me Win ONE!” Guerrier tonight.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Team's done, I want mine.

I love Papi. Who doesn't and if you don't, then you must hate puppies as well. I was alittle disappointed to read the follow article on regarding Papi's thoughts about the MVP race in the American League.

I think it's safe to say that it's down to Dye, Morneau, Konerko, Papi and Jeter (always have to have a Yankee in the mix). All have their arguements for and against, don't really need to re-hash that as it's basically the same stuff every year. I was surprised to see Papi basically say that the Boston line-up isn't near as good as the Yankee line-up.

"Don't get me wrong -- he's a great player, having a great season, but he's got a lot of guys in that lineup," Ortiz continued. "Top to bottom, you've got a guy who can hurt you. Come hit in this lineup, see how good you can be."

The best thing about these comments is anyone can go to a site and see if Papi, well, might be looking at it the wrong way. Out of the 14 teams in the AL, here is how Boston, Chicago, New York and out beloved Twins rank in each category:

Stat NY Boston Chicago Twins
HR 3 5 1 13
RBI 1 5 2 8
Runs 1 4 2 8
TB 4 7 1 9
2B 6 5 10 11
SLG 4 7 1 8
Hits 2 8 2 6
AVE 1 10 2 3
OBP 1 2 5 6
OPS 1 5 3 7
ERA 6 11 9 3

Papi, you will get votes. Sorry to say, Jeter will get votes as well. It's not like your team doesn't hit and does score runs cause you do. Maybe the cash cow should have spent more money on good pitching and not trade Hanley for anything. Maybe D Wells was good regardless of the fact he was hurt. You've got 14 or 15 game winners in Clement and Beckett, not really that much more. Schilling is 89. Put it together, you need pitching.

By that quote, Morneau should be the clear favorite. Who's more important to the team?