Monday, July 31, 2006

This Land Is Their Land

Unacceptable to Twindom: Losing a key series at home to a team made-up of overpriced sluggers who sit back and play for the longball.

Slightly more acceptable to Twindom: Losing a key series at home to a team that appears to play baseball the “right” way.

Let’s face it…getting beat at your own game is much easier to swallow…particularly when your organization has been credited with being the “blueprint” for success. Strong pitching, tough defense, occasional hitting. (Remember last year…when we even lauded the hated White Sox because they finally came to their senses and embraced pitching and defense over hitting…nevermind the pesky fact that they hit 200 home runs)

And this weekend, we finally embraced the fact that this is not your mother’s Tom Selleck’s Detroit Tigers.

The most glaring example of this came early in the weekend, when, during Game 1, Jason Kubel attempted to bunt Justin Morneau over to second base. It wasn’t a terrible effort, but most likely heading for foul territory…however, before it could reach the land of the great do-over, Brandon Inge charged in, fielded the ball, and, with his body now in foul territory, threw out The Fightin’ Canadian at second. There was still much baseball to be played (including the continuing coming-out party), but that moment was when the Detroit Tigers showed the Twins that they are now your sister’s Tom Selleck’s Detroit Tigers…and they don’t mind dating Courtney Cox right up in your face.

By the time Powder had his 8th inning meltdown on Sunday, the division had long since been decided.

(Saturday’s game was dead to me…as I instead went to see Jolie Holland at the Varsity Theater…possible review to follow)

Update: (And here it is)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Final Salvo

As several members of the editorial staff will be sweating and hacking our way around several Mississippi River area golf courses this weekend, just a quick note. First, the weekend series with Detroit is downright salivatacious. Double saliva for the pitching matchups. I say we win two out of three.

Lastly, check out a great article on F-Bomb from USA today, as mentioned elsewhere too. A nice little inside look which answers some good questions like, "What the F were you thinking San Francisco Giants?" Here's my favorite quote:

"When we saw him in mid-April, I couldn't believe he was in the bullpen," Oakland A's designated hitter Frank Thomas says. "I was saying, 'If they got five starters better than him, I'll kiss your a—.' He's unbelievable."

Catch you on the flip side.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

'Nuff Said

There really is very little to add that Jon Gordon, Barreiro, Karl Ravech, Harold Reyn...whoops, John Kruk's testicle, Dark Star, Dubay, or Dazzle haven't already, so I will instead just lay here splayed out on my couch basking in the afterglow and fighting off an overwhelming sleepiness. And why is it that the Twins always want to "talk about things" afterwards? Don't you know that is seepy time?

On a good note, as a committed environmentalist, at least the White Sox bandwagon should be much lighter and therefore getting much better gas mileage after all the folks abandoning ship.

Other things:

Freaking steroid boy

Bat-Girl on FIRE today

A nice piece at TwinsGeek on a subject that Hops brought up sometime back

And finally, I just became aware of the fact that we still have 11 games remaining with the Royals. I think I just got "excited" again...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I'm Okay to Go. I'm Okay to Go

Still giddy following yesterday's anticipation-filled (or was that anticipation-fueled) day, and the game itself did nothing to disappoint. There's little better than playoff atmosphere in July, if for nothing else then to bridge the gap til NFL preseason. Justkiddingnotreally. Contreras was filty, Santana filthier, and Jason Bartlett the filthierest. But being that today's game is a getaway version, and Carlos S(erve)i(t up)lva is pitching, all this happy horse-hooey might be short lived. Better to get this feeling down on e-paper before it's past.

I don't know if anyone caught it, but last night's game was a momentous event in physics history. We saw the first definable evidence of what is called an Einstein-Rosen bridge, or more commonly "wormhole". You remember Jodie Foster flying through one of those from Contact. Anyway, there was clearly one present in left field, as seemingly routine pop outs left the screen from the center field camera view and were all of the sudden dropping over the fence like Tom Hanks in The Burbs. Even Jason Bartlett agreed, "I popped it up," Bartlett said. "I thought it was an out. I was kind of ticked, but the [immutable laws of physics] blew it out." Jose Contreras commented also, "[Stupid space-time continum. I'd like to kick the crap out of some physicist]." Someone alert Stephen Hawking.

About last night's game, Ozzie (Guillen, not the guy from MTV) said this:
"One thing about the Minnesota Twins," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said, "that's what they are right there: great pitching, clutch hitting and great defense. And I think that's the reason those guys have had success for so many years."

Well actually Ozzie, that's more than one thing.

Okay, okay, all this hope and expectation can't be good for me. I'm now downgrading from giddy to cautiously optimistic. Oh crap, I just read this. Giddiness rising...rising.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Funny Math

Really? REALLY?


is now equivalent to this?

I kind of hate you A-Job, but tell me tell me you are less of a mental midget than Blauchhead.

No one else is excited for tonight, right?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Drawing of the 3…Wild Card Edition:

What a coincidence…the Twins play three games against the White Sox, starting today, and they are three games behind them in the chase for Bud Selig’s Only Beneficial Contribution to Baseball.

Expected pitching match-ups:

B-Rad v. Javier Vazquez
Gotta have this one

Jo-heezy v. Jose Contraras
Woah nelly! Hide grandma and the kids for this one folks, we’re in for a barnburner

Carlos (undeserving of a nickname) Silva v. Mark Buehrle
I’m betting Jacque Jones goes 0-4

I suppose you have to pencil in at least two well-pitched games for the Twins in this series, based on recent history…but it’s the whoopin’ sticks that will tell the tale in this series. The Twins’ bats have to show up in this series…I’m looking at you Michael Cuddyer. The Twins made a habit out of, while winning three straight division titles, punching their division rivals in the mouth any time someone dared to threaten the streak. But now the roles are reversed, and the Twins need to avoid a similar fate. We know this team is built on pitching…but I’d love to see Morneau out-slug Thome. And it’d be nice if someone would just plain slug A.J. , again.

Speaking of being built on pitching…the kid’s going to be just fine.

Speaking of speaking of pitching, like most teams in the race the Twins find themselves pining after more starting pitching. The oddnicity of it all is that the number one player they’d like to move to get that starter is…another starting pitcher. (Kyle Lohse, come on down!). Is it possible to upgrade starting pitching in the same deal that you’re attempting to dump starting pitching? Well…it has been done. But is a similar opportunity available for the proverbial “change of scenery” this year? Do they really need another starter? How about a bat?

One week until the (non-waiver) trade deadline…do you think the Twins will make a move?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Who Are The People In Your Neighborhood?

If Nick Punto lived on my block,
The neighborhood association would fine him for improper lawn care due to all the games of hotbox he plays with the neighborhoods kids. (Kids=Lew Ford)

If Johan Santana lived on my block,
I’d have to shoo Bat-Girl, her plaid lawn chair and her binoculars off of my lawn on a daily basis.

If Francisco Liriano lived on my block,
I’d never get any sleep because the fire alarms would go off all night while F-Bomb dreamed of striking out more and more dirty White Sox.

If Brad Radke lived on my block,
I guarantee you that the neighborhood kids would ALWAYS ask him to pitch to them during street waffle-ball games.

If Kyle Lohse lived on my block,
He’d stay inside all the time, eventually turning into a sad character we just refer to as Boo Frequently.

If Michael Cuddyer lived on my block,
I would wonder why rabbits would be constantly appearing and disappearing from his lawn.

If Joe Nathan lived on my block,
I’d always laugh at how little he paid for A.J.’s old house.

If Shannon Stewart lived on my block,
I’d ask him to throw me my newspaper as he walked by every morning, and then laugh when it dropped three feet in front of me. Every time.

If Torii Hunter lived on my block,
He would organize block parties and neighborhood bbq’s, and everyone would love him. But all would secretly wonder if we’d be better off with someone who was just a little better at planning and coordinating.

If Joe Mauer lived on my block,
I’d be living in St. Paul.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Shock Me, Shock Me, Shock Me with that deviant behavior

On the subject of shocking things, there is always a continuum. On one end are totally obvious things like this, that are fully anticipated -- nay demanded -- in every way. And on the other end are things like Francisco Liriano being left off "Take 1!" of the All-Star team.

I voted for him 37 times the day before the All-Star break. Actually it was in the last ten minutes. And I voted once during that time for that Ramon Hernandez guy. I felt bad for him.

Something that shocking makes a guy turn bitter about otherwise meaningless things like A.J. shilling for himself on Crappiest Darn Activities Program and ponder things like, "Damn it! There's got to be a better way! How about a new policy for All-Star voting next year!? Fans are required to pass a knowledge test to be 'vote eligible' -- no googling allowed." Sort of a philosopher kings baseball voting oligarchy. And this seems like a totally implementable and reasonable idea at the time.

However more shocking than all that has been something I've seen while watching the Twins the past two games, once live and once broadcast (because it's not a standard random sample otherwise). Now my shock is statisticaly significant with a super duper p-value. This something is two players rising to the occassion to carry the Twins while emergency staffers are paged and hurried into the HCMC pro sports wing to rehab the major part of the Twinks outfield.

It's this:

And this:

No, R. White and N. Punto are not Farsi for Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer, and yes F-bomb was da bomb during that first game, but there is something uber-fantastic about guys like this coming up huge in the clutch. And this is not your "normal" clutch, but a slightly less critical clutch, when toes are cracked and plantars are fasciated. and you need other guys to step into roles they are previously unaccustomed to. At this point in the season, Joe Mauer would have to hit with his feet or butt cheeks to get me to notice another single into right field, and I need at least 16 K's from Santana to remember that he should have won the last two Cys. And even though Francisco should arguably be the frontrunnner for this year's Cy, the neckbeard was slightly higher on the list of noticeable achievements yesterday than the 8 2/3 innings shutout, but just below the performance of my new favorite men in navy, blue, and white...

Plus, Rondell does VERY well with the ladies I hear.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Naysayer, The Frontrunner and The Critic - an intro

Allow myself to introduce myself as the newest, insider-outsiderest member of the TWT staff. Though I have great affection for the Twins, having spent ten of my formative years in the Mini-apple, my true allegiances lay with the team of my father and his father before him, and so on and so forth. Which is a roundabout way of saying PAPELBON!

Essentially, I see my role here as three-ply. First, as this is a 'literary baseball' blog (or has at least 3 authors counting myself with enough pretentiousness to claim to be 'literary') and I read baseball books, lots of them, I'll pass on my thoughts. I joyfully take recomendations, though my interests tend to run more towards the workings of the game than the biographical. This is not to say everything will be Bill Jamesian (one of my favorite works of all time is Roger Kahn's The Head Game, which is about as far from SABREmetric as one gets. But it did teach me how to properly grip a slider, a curveball or a circle-change.

Secondly, it seems that the romantacism of the Twins adulation needs to be moderated with small doses of large-market realism. Now it's not going to be all Sawx, all the time, (I'll try to keep my daily mood swings, largely matching the swings in the standings vis-a-vis the M-F'in Yankees [hereafter simply MFY's] to my own place) but consider me the resident cranky skeptic.

Finally, at least once a month, I'm here to thank the Twins:

All Rondell All The Time

Tuesday's line...2-3, BB, RBI, Run scored.

Mr. Nice Guy's resurgence continues to block the all-but-done deal between the Twins and the Marlins...Kyle Lohse for Miguel Cabrera. Straight-up. No seriously, I mean it. It totally makes sense for both teams. Damn you and your excellence, Mr. White.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Minnesota Twins See-and-Say

Rondell White Says,

"It's on like Donkey Kong, Bitches"

Monday, July 17, 2006

Ghost of Dave Kingman to the rescue

All it took to shake Rondell White out of his maxi-slump was a little visit from the Gods of the Metrodome. The divine hand of Dave Kingman himself was seen covering the eyes of Todd Hollandsworth when, during the 4th inning R. White launched a lazy fly toward left field. Blinded by baseball history, Todd had no choice but to let the ball fall harmlessly to the turf* the nicest guy on the team a "double". So what, you say? It's only one hit, you say? No, no, no. Next time up for Nice Guy Rondell? Home Run. Yep, all three bases and home plate included in one swing of the bat.

And you want to get rid of the Metrodome. Fools.

Friday, July 14, 2006

First half winners

Now that I've done my research, tallied my votes and looked at my baseball cards, thought I would put the first half winners and potential playoff teams together.


MVP - It's between two guys and I'm voting for Papi because he's team is winning and the guy means wins for the club in the clutch. I think Hafner deserves a look based on his numbers (seriously, look at them, slugging, OPS, everything) but Cleveland sucks. No pitching. Papi is so important to that team, the most important player. I don't want to hear about Paplebon.

CY Young - Two guys again and I'm a rube so Liriano is my winner. Completely dominate, leaders in K's and hasn't even hit 100 innings pitched. Plus, guys aren't getting hits off him. Leader in ERA, double digit wins, partial year starter, awesome. Please don't turn into Woods or Prior. Second guy deserving a look, Roy Halloday. 12-2, 3.08 or something ERA, awesome. I don't want to hear about Paplebon, too many awesome starters.

ROY - Well, if he gets Cy's award, he gets this one. I don't want to hear about Paplebon.

Comeback Player - I'm giving this to Thome. His numbers are insane, 30 HR, 77 RBI. Might think about Schilling, but people thought Thome's career was done, definately not going to be like this. Problem, he was in the NL last year, but who really cares.

Playoffs (AL)
East: Boston - I will not vote for the Yankees, plus their pitching is terrible and Matsui/Sheffield are gone. If they can get a hitter, maybe, but I think the Angels should go get Liriano and the Yankees got nothing in the minors to trade. I also think the Blue Jays have a better shot.

Central: Chicago - I think their pitching is better then the Tigers. Tigers guys just alittle too young.

West: Who cares, but I'll go with the Angels. If Harden comes back healthy and the A's remember you do have to hit in baseball, maybe them. Angels pitching staff is too tough, but the need a bat.

Wildcard: Go Kittie's. Tigers will make it.


MVP - Puljols. Means way too much oh and he's number are ridulous. Still leading in RBI, second in HR, over .310 average, OPS off the carts and missed 15 games. Wright is a consideration, but take him off the team and they are still winning a ton (see Beltran & Reyes).

CY Young - B. Webb in AZ. Double digit wins, under 3 ERA, been the best pitcher in the NL. He wins in AZ which is impressive. Plus, can you hit that curveball??

ROY - Someone on the Marlins needs this award and I'm going with Uggla. Putting up some rediculus numbers as a second baseman. 13HR, 51 RBI, .303 AVE, 57 runs, nice. Too bad Marlins fans suck, but I think their GM is a genious. Construct a team, win WS, destroy team, rebuild, win WS. Just think if baseball had a salary cap, he'd be top GM.

Comeback - Two guys deserve this award and because he has a higher average right now and is married to Mia, I'll give it to Nomar. He frustrates me cause I've drafted him the last two years, been angered by that, chose to not even look at him this year and he's good again. Big ups to Rolen. Back to normal for him. I think he's top 5 all around best 3B's of all time, but we'll go with Mr. Hamm this year.

Playoffs (NL)
East: duh, Mets. Bigger question here is when do the Braves unload some people?? Smolz, Chipper, Giles?? Now those are some players with value.

Central: I suppose the Cards. Better balance of hitting in pitching. Reds and Brewers wont be there and the Astro are in the same box as the A's, no hitting. Huff is nice, but he's no Beltran of a few years back. Plus, Clemens can't hit like he pitches. I wonder if Glen Davis is around??

West: Again, who cares but I'll go with the Padres. Dodgers are too young, everyone else sucks. If Bonds could hit, maybe the Giants.

Wildcard: This one was tough, but I'll go with the Dodgers over the Astros due to their ability to score sometime.

Kyle Lohse to front Fleetwood Mac

Rumors flying around that the White Sox are putting Freddy Garcia and Javier Vazquez on the trading block? What does this mean for the Twins? Well, other than a White Sox trade will likely strengthen their pitching staff (adding relief help) means the market for Kyle Lohse just got a hell of a lot dryer. Both of the White Sox pitchers would be more attractive than Lohse to just about any team. C'mon, Mr. Ryan...hit someone with your magic stick.

Smitty has threatened a "Billy Beane is not all he's cracked-up to be" post. Which has me thinking...should the Twins enter into the trade market with an asset that may actually be valuable to someone? Or are we just hoping they jettison dead weight? What happens to any trade discussions of Lohse that also suddenly include Juan Rincon? Does a team destined (we'll see in three weeks how destined) for third place need a stud set-up man? Especially a team rich in minor league pitching? The Twins appear to be primed for a nice little run...if they can tie-up some of the young talent that is showing up this year. So does it make sense to trade someone at the top of their game for a young hitter or starter from another organization? I think it does. No trade of Shannon Stewart or Kyle Lohse gets you anything in return...unless you add value. I being too Beane-ish?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Tid Bits

A few things that have been stuck at the bottom of the notebook for today.

*Congrats to the Franchise. And let me take this opportunity to say screw you AJ. Punch AJ indeed. I'm looking in your direction Delmon Young.

*What was your favorite Ruben Sierra moment? "Injury-plagued" is the best we can come up with? Agreed. I'd put him somewhere between rivers of blood and frogs raining from the sky. Maybe a nice drought. Oh wait, we already have one of those.

I found a Barry Bonds rookie card on eBay. Check it out:

*Congrats to the A.L. All-Star squad. They just keep beating N.L. teams like it's going out of style -- in fact, they haven't lost in a decade. And eerily, three years ago, a Texas Rangers hitter won the All-Star game against an N.L. closer with 0 blown saves in 31 chances (heading into the break). That would be Eric Gagne of rec-spec fame. Hoffman had blown 1 save in 25 going into last night. Bang up job Michael Young.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Everybody Loves the Sound of a Train in the Distance

Okay, time to bash my second favorite radio station. As many people have read/heard, this website’s favorite franchise is most likely leaving the good neighbor and moving the broadcasts of their games to KSTP. As much as I think ‘CCO has done nice work for the Twins, I have very few problems with this move. I do, however, have a problem with WCCO’s on-air response thus far. Their on-air personalities waged (past tense ‘cuz I’m hearing less and less every day) a grassroots campaign to malign the Twins’ braintrust and their rationale for changing broadcast partners. The main point, as I heard it? Loyalty. WCCO has broadcast the Twins’ games for the last 46 years. WCCO has been a loyal partner to the organization. WCCO stuck with the team during the “down” years.


Where were the complaints about ‘loyalty’ when the Twins were threatening to leave the state for Portland, Las Vegas, or North Carolina? Were WCCO and its employees the only folks that were loyal to the Twins for the last 46 years? The loyalty card only comes up now that the Twins are preparing to leave WCCO, not the state. How the worm turns.

The Minnesota Twins have been attempting to blackmail the state of Minnesota into buying them a stadium for the last ten years. Their leading instrument of propaganda? WCCO radio. With verying levels of bullshit, every single broadcast personality on the good neighbor has helped the Twins shill for a stadium. From the ludicrous ($0.03 for every $20) to the funny (cold Omaha) to the reasonable (simply the cost of doing business)…WCCO has been heralding a new stadium as a necessity to keep the franchise here and happy. Fine. Annoying, but fine. I disagree completely, but fine.

But you can't complain when the same tactics you've been a large part of are now being used on you. You just can't.

WCCO’s motives all along were to keep a very large part of their local business model in tact…it was never about 46 years of loyalty. (Do you think the station was losing money during those “down” years?) And there’s nothing wrong with that…but why do people believe that WCCO and Minnesota are inexorably tied together? Good marketing, that’s why.

Let’s not forget who owns WCCO radio. C.B.S. (or whatever we’re calling the parent company) The idea that the Twins demands are somehow unaffordable for WCCO is ridiculous. This is two very large companies having a pissing contest. Don’t try and sell me on loyalty.

Now if you want to make an argument about moving to a station that employs this guy…I’m all ears.

Coincidentally, there’s an article about Danny Gladden and his evolution as a broadcaster in the Minneapolis Star Tribune today. Very nicely written, it manages to hit a few spots that have confused me for quite some time. I’ve always liked Gladden as an announcer, and always thought he was terrible at it. Does that make any sense? Wherever I’m listening to the Twins next year…I’m hoping he’s part of the broadcast. But I’m also hoping he gets better. Now, if only someone can explain where "Dazzle" came from?

We’ve failed Sr. Filthiano

In related news…Michael Barrett is being added to the NL squad.

Kids, never drink in the daytime. Someone may film it.
Severe alcoholism...that's the only explanation I can come up with.

So I'm reading and notice an article about the Atlanta Braves. It pointed out how they will not be winning their, what, 15th straight division title. Duh. What pissed me off was the picture of four out of shape, Atlanta fans with paper-bags on their heads with some random blah, blah, blah written on each bag. Terrible. This is a perfect picture of the many stories I've heard about Atlanta sport fans. Not selling out Braves playoff games, not attending Thrasher games during their inaugural season, not caring about the Falcons until Mike Vick arrived (they did go to the Super Bowl in 1999, technically it was 1998 season) and now being embarrassed to be a Braves fan?? I would be embarrassed to sit next to any of those jokers. Buck up and support your team. If I were a team official, wouldn't want any of those guys back in the stadium. So, they should move. Go somewhere you will be loved and appreciated.

Next post .... Billy Beane you are good, but not great.

Monday, July 03, 2006

They're not 'Lewing' anymore

The baseball all-star game is the most interesting of all the major pro all-star games. Congratulations.

I do find the "final vote" process silly, however. If there's really four (or five) more guys that we think are deserving...just add them to the squad. Does it really matter? This isn't like diluting the hall-of-fame by electing unqualified's an exhibition game. Whoops...sorry, Herr Selig...I forgot, IT COUNTS. Well then...having more players will reduce the chance the game will be ended by a P.A. announcement.

Silliness aside...go vote for Liriano. He's filthy dirty.

As far as I can're allowed to vote 16,000 times per email address.

(Oh yeah...the silliest part of the final vote? Lew Ford was eligible in 2004. Lew Ford...almost all-star. Right.)